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Anderson overcomes ailments at right time

Anderson on hitting tear since DL stint

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ATLANTA -- While Garret Anderson battled through early-season injuries, Braves manager Bobby Cox remained steadfast in his belief that the veteran outfielder would eventually be one of the key pieces of his lineup.

Having overcome the leg ailments that hampered him during Spring Training and throughout most of April, Anderson has started to make Cox's words appear prophetic. Entering Wednesday night's game against the Yankees, the 36-year-old outfielder had recorded nine hits in his previous 18 at-bats and quietly increased his batting average to .284.

"There was never any doubt that Garret was going to hit," Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton said. "I think it's a matter of him getting his legs under him and having the chance to regain his rhythm."

After signing with the Braves on Feb. 22, Anderson reported to camp late and then strained his right calf muscle in what would have been his second game of the exhibition season. He returned to action one week before Opening Day and then went on the disabled list on April 20 with a strained left quadriceps muscle.

Since being activated on May 5, Anderson has hit .299, with seven doubles, three homers and a team-leading 26 RBIs. More impressively, over the course of his past 35 games, the veteran outfielder has hit .325 with a .444 slugging percentage.

"I feel like he's going to hit a line drive every time he's at the plate," Cox said. "I've always loved to see him hit."

Because Anderson had spent each of his 15 previous Major League seasons with the Angels, the Braves knew it might take some time for him to acclimate himself to a new environment.

When Anderson hit just .200 in the 10 games he played before going on the DL, Cox continued to say that his struggles were essentially a product of the fact that he'd been denied the opportunity to make necessary preparations during Spring Training.

That opinion has been supported by the fact that Anderson's bat really started heating up about one month after he returned from the DL. In the 13 games he's played since June 8, he has hit .383 with a .412 on-base percentage and a .511 slugging percentage.

"With his swing, we knew that he was always going to hit," Cox said. "There was never any question about that."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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