Detroit Tigers right-hander Chase Anderson thinks he can 'win a spot' in starting rotation

LAKELAND, Fla. — Chase Anderson tries not to think about the past two years of his baseball career.

The 34-year-old signed a minor-league contract Monday with the Detroit Tigers and reported to spring training in TigerTown, where the right-hander hopes to remind the industry he belongs at the highest level.

"I feel like I can come in here and win a spot," Anderson said, "and get the back end of the rotation stabilized and continue to prove that I can do this at a high level and get outs and pitch deep into games like I did earlier in my career. That's the chip on my shoulder, giving me an edge to show that I'm still in my prime."

Right handed pitcher Chase Anderson throws live batting practice during Detroit Tigers spring training Thursday, March 17, 2022, at TigerTown in Lakeland, Florida.
Right handed pitcher Chase Anderson throws live batting practice during Detroit Tigers spring training Thursday, March 17, 2022, at TigerTown in Lakeland, Florida.

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In the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Anderson posted a 6.94 ERA with 30 walks and 73 strikeouts over 81⅔ innings in 24 games (16 starts) for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies.

His best MLB season came in 2017 with the Milwaukee Brewers; he posted a 2.74 ERA with 41 walks and 133 strikeouts in 25 starts.

Anderson has a career 20.1% strikeout rate and 7.9% walk rate.

"My changeup is my bread-and-butter out pitch," Anderson said. "(I want to) prove the velocity of my fastball can get back to where it was (at 92-93 mph), and things play off that. Just proving that I can still do this and get outs.

"I feel really good right now. I think this team is going to do something really good, this year and years to come, with AJ (Hinch, manager) at the top. They have a really bright future, and I look forward to being a part of that."

Right handed pitcher Chase Anderson throws live batting practice during Detroit Tigers spring training Thursday, March 17, 2022, at TigerTown in Lakeland, Florida.
Right handed pitcher Chase Anderson throws live batting practice during Detroit Tigers spring training Thursday, March 17, 2022, at TigerTown in Lakeland, Florida.

Anderson has pitched eight seasons in the big leagues, with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2014-15), Brewers (2016-19), Blue Jays (2020) and Phillies (2021). He has a career 4.20 ERA in 190 appearances (176 starts).

"Chase signed to create a lot of competition," Hinch said. "He's started. He's been a bulk reliever before. He's got a ton of experience. He was really interested as we were in him in taking a look. He's got a back of a baseball card. We know what he's about."

Once MLB's lockout ended, Anderson had three or four teams interested in him.

He picked the Tigers.

"We didn't have much time to make a decision," Anderson said. "They were needing to know, so they move on to the next guy. That's just how it was working. Time was of the essence, so I had to make a quick decision. And I think this was the best one."

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Ryan Lavarnway 'not blind' to journeyman status

Along with Anderson, the Tigers signed 34-year-old catcher Ryan Lavarnway to a minor-league contract Monday.

He has played 10 MLB seasons, with the Boston Red Sox (2011-14), Baltimore Orioles (2015), Atlanta Braves (2015), Oakland Athletics (2017), Pittsburgh Pirates (2018), Cincinnati Reds (2019), Miami Marlins (2020) and Cleveland (2021).

"I'm not blind to how my career has gone," Lavarnway said. "Realistically, I wasn't going to get a long-term offer, but I go where the opportunity goes. I find myself in the big leagues for a couple weeks or a couple months every year. I just try to be ready to take advantage of an opportunity when it becomes available."

The Tigers were the first team to call Lavarnway's agent and make an offer following the lockout. He has a career .217 batting average with nine homers, a 24.7% strikeout rate and a 6.6% walk rate in his 165-game career.

Lavarnway has played 31 games over the past five seasons.

"Anybody that lasts as long as Ryan has and with so many teams tells me a lot about the character of the person," Hinch said. "People like him. People respect him. He always finds a way to get to the big leagues. Not too many people can pull that off."

E-Rod leads starting rotation

The Tigers announced their starting pitchers for the first five spring training games, beginning Friday: Eduardo Rodriguez, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning and Tyler Alexander.

Rodriguez, a 2018 World Series champion with the Red Sox whom the Tigers signed to a five-year, $77 million contract in November, will pitch three innings Friday against the Phillies in Lakeland.

He'll be followed by Mize on Saturday (Pirates in Bradenton), Skubal on Sunday (New York Yankees in Tampa), Manning on Monday (Blue Jays in Lakeland) and Alexander on Tuesday (Phillies in Clearwater).

"Here, you see a lot of young guys on a team that's started building up be a championship team," Rodriguez said. "Over there (with the Red Sox), it was a lot of veteran guys all the time and every day, so that's the difference that I see. But I like the way it is over here, the way everybody likes to have fun, and everybody is a good teammate. They like to joke around and everything like that. I like the energy that we have here in this clubhouse."

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers signed RHP Chase Anderson to 'create competition'