Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 56 – Cody Anderson
Bob Toth | On 31, Jan 2019
Major League Baseball will kick off the 2019 season with its earliest start ever (excluding international openers) as all 30 teams will take the field on March 28. Follow along with Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down the days until Opening Day 2019. – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 56 days
There are plenty of opportunities for pitchers showing up to spring training with the Cleveland Indians. One of those arms vying for a chance in 2019 will be Cody Anderson, the big right-hander and number 56 who broke onto the scene in 2015, but has been on the shelf for the last two years while dealing with a long rehab from Tommy John surgery.
You may have forgotten about Anderson, as he has been far removed from the big league mound while fading into obscurity after once being an intriguing candidate for the Indians’ rotation. After catching plenty of eyes around the game, claiming an American League Rookie of the Month honor in September 2015, and finishing his 15-game debut season with a 7-3 record, a 3.05 ERA, and a 1.11 WHIP, Anderson struggled to stick in 2016. He started the season in the rotation, but struggled to keep the opposition off of the bases and off of the scoreboard. He missed three weeks in the middle of the season with right elbow tightness and found himself shuttling back and forth between Cleveland and Triple-A Columbus for much of the year. His work with the Tribe in the second half of the season was almost exclusively in relief, and he was absent from making contributions to the club during the team’s run to the final day of the postseason (despite being on both the American League Division Series and Championship Series rosters).
In nine starts and ten relief appearances for the Indians, he went 2-5 with a 6.68 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP, improving on his strikeout rate but struggling to keep the ball off of opponents’ bats.
While Anderson was thought to be a depth option for the club for 2017, he quickly became a non-factor. He had an arthroscopic debridement procedure completed on his pitching arm on November 9 to address an impingement in the back of the elbow joint. He was expected to be sidelined for eight weeks, which would have put him in line to participate in spring training, but a following diagnosis of a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in that right elbow on March 10 led to Tommy John surgery less than three weeks later.
Anderson missed the entire 2017 season, but was thought to be in good position to resume pitching early in the 2018 campaign. As the season started, it looked as though he was closing in on a return, but setbacks kept him out of game action until the final weeks of the minor league schedule. The former 14th rounder in the 2011 draft (who moved relatively quickly through the farm system while earning the Bob Feller Award in 2013 as the organization’s top pitcher) did not pitch again in formal game action until August 25, when he worked an inning in the Arizona League. He added in single innings of work on August 30 for short-season Mahoning Valley and September 3 for Double-A Akron.
In his three innings on the rubber in 2018, he faced 12 batters, striking out four, walking two, and giving up one base hit. More important than the stats (which were, themselves, positive) was the end of nearly a year and a half of rehab work at the team’s complex in Goodyear.
Now, Anderson looks to return to Goodyear with a different task and a job to fight for. After agreeing to a one-year, $641,250 contract for 2019 to avoid arbitration with the Indians on December 19, Anderson is expected to go to spring training as a starting pitcher to get himself stretched back out as a depth piece at Columbus. There remains a possibility that he could factor in the mix for the open spots in the team’s bullpen, but much of that will depend upon how he holds up over the course of the spring.
The number 56 has seen plenty of usage in Cleveland Indians history, but oftentimes, it wound up on the backs of men who spent little time in town and bounced all around during their professional careers. Given that fact, it seems fitting that the first player to claim the digits as his own in both Indians and Major League history earned the moniker “Suitcase Bob” because of being a frequently relocated player in the golden days of baseball.
Bob Seeds, or “Suitcase Bob”, broke into the big leagues in 1930, appearing in 85 games in the Cleveland lineup while playing all three outfield spots. After playing sparingly in 1931 in a new number, he got four hitless plate appearances in 1932 before he was dealt to the Chicago White Sox with Johnny Hodapp for Bill Cissell and Jim Moore. He hit .290 for the Sox in 116 games, but he changed his Sox after the season, traded with Hodapp and others to the Boston Red Sox.
He played 82 games in 1933 for Boston and had logged six plate appearances in eight games in 1934 before he was on the move again, dealt back to Cleveland with Bob Weiland and cash for pitcher Wes Ferrell and outfielder Dick Porter. He would not make it a calendar year in Cleveland though, as he was purchased the following January by the Detroit Tigers. He never appeared with the big league Tigers, but was later traded to the New York Yankees in 1936 and would suit up for the neighboring Giants for three seasons from 1938 to 1940. He spent the next five years in the minors, including the 1942 season back in the Indians farm system.
It would be nearly 50 years before the number 56 would return to the diamond for the Indians. Right-handed pitcher Sandy Wihtol, who spent parts of three seasons in the Majors with Cleveland while working in 28 games total, wore 56 as one of three different numbers he would don in his Indians career, doing so in 1979 and 1980.
Outfielder Rod Craig was the next man in the number, taking it up in 1982 during a 49-game opportunity with the Tribe.
Two different players would wear the number for Cleveland in 1991, as pitcher Mike York and catcher Ed Taubensee each claimed it as their own. York worked in 14 games, making four starts that year in his final appearances in the Majors just months after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Mitch Webster. Taubensee played in 26 games after being picked up off of waivers from Oakland at the start of the season. He later was dealt to Houston to bring Kenny Lofton to the Indians organization.
Alan Embree, who played 16 years in the Majors, got the number in 1992 when he made four starts for the Indians. He would not return to the Bigs until 1995 at the start of a two-year stint in the Indians bullpen. Bruce Aven started his MLB career in Cleveland in 1997, playing in 13 games for the club. He later played seven games for the Indians in 2002. Right-hander Sean DePaula spent his entire three-year career (1999-2000, 2002) with the Indians, taking the mound 29 times in the number 56 while posting a 1-1 record with a 6.75 ERA.
Both Angel Santos and Ricardo Rodriguez took on the number in 2003. Santos played in 32 games as a second and third baseman after being acquired midseason from Boston. Rodriguez, who was part of the Paul Shuey trade the previous year, opened the year in the Tribe’s rotation, but was on the move by the summer after going 3-9. He would be traded to Texas in a package for outfielder Ryan Ludwick.
The number 56, especially over the last decade and a half, has tended to land on the backs of those in the Cleveland bullpen, including Cliff Bartosh (34 games in 2004), Fernando Cabrera (2005-07), and Rich Rundles (2008-09). Matt Ginter (four starts in 2008) was the lone exception in the latter half of the first decade of the 21st century. It was back in the bullpen when Frank Herrmann reached the Majors in 2010. He spent parts of three seasons with the Tribe, appearing in 95 games out of the bullpen in that span before injuries derailed his career. Bryan Price made three appearances for the club in 2014 as the last man to make his Major League debut from the 2009 Victor Martinez trade with Boston (joining Justin Masterson and Nick Hagadone).
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
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