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Brett Anderson overcomes butterflies, kills worms in first spring start

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brett Anderson pitched two scoreless innings in his Dodgers spring training debut on Monday against the Giants in Scottsdale, his first time in a game in just over seven months.

Anderson, who had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back in August, has been healthy all camp, with no setbacks. But that didn't stop his body from reminding him this was his first time pitching in a game since August 5, 2014.

"It definitely made my morning a little rougher than I anticipated," Anderson said after his outing. "Mentally I was fine for the most part. I had the butterflies and nervous energy, but once you throw that first pitch it all goes out the window and you focus on getting people out."

Get outs is what Anderson did, inducing ground ball outs from his first four batters faced, one to each Dodgers infielder.

"First time pitching in front of the defense, it was awesome," Anderson said. "For what I do, it will be extremely beneficial. Getting ground balls, and the range. I told Adrian [Gonzalez], 'Just pretend like I'm not there. Anything that's not within five feet of me, just take it yourself.' For the first time getting acclimated, I think it's going to be a plus-plus defense."

Getting ground balls is what Anderson does, with a 55.4-percent ground ball rate in his career. In his last three years it's 61.4 percent, sixth-highest in MLB among the 371 pitchers with at least 120 innings during that span.

"I hadn't seen this cat pitch that much, but watching his pens and listening to the catchers after they caught him, I think we knew what we had," said manager Don Mattingly. "I don't think the question has ever been his stuff."

Anderson faced seven total batters in his two innings Monday, throwing just 23 pitches. He induced five grounders, allowed a single to Matt Duffy, and struck out Adam Duvall swinging.

"I got my quota of high-fastball strikeouts this year, with one," Anderson quipped.

Now that Anderson got his first spring start out of the way, he can shift his focus the rest of camp.

"Now I can just worry about doing my routine and worry about what happens every five days," Anderson said, "being in playing mode rather than rehab mode."