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A ray of hope for Garret Anderson

December 8, 2008 |  9:22 pm

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LAS VEGAS –- Garret Anderson has never played a game in a uniform other than an Angel one. But at least one big supporter can envision him in Tampa Bay blue next season.

"I love GA. GA is wonderful," Rays Manager Joe Maddon, who won a World Series with Anderson as the Angels bench coach in 2002, said Monday at baseball’s annual winter meetings. “Actually I thought over the last two seasons … GA’s game got even stronger. When we played against him, I thought he was very crisp the last time, running well, the whole nine yards.

"That’s very attractive to a lot of people right now. Regardless of his age."

Anderson, 36, a three-time All-Star, is the Angels career leader in several offensive categories including runs (1,024), hits (2,368), doubles (489), total bases (3,743) and RBI (1.292) as well as games (2,013). But despite the fact he hit .293 and played in 145 games for the Angels last season, the team declined to pick up his $14 million option for 2009, buying him out for $3 million and making him a free agent.

And Tampa Bay could be an attractive location for Anderson since the Rays, a perennial doormat, will go into next season as the defending American League champions. That’s not only changed the way people view the franchise but the way people view the manager as well. He was even recognized by a fan in Italy during his postseason honeymoon.

"One," Maddon said. "Ryan Atwood, Rome train terminal."

-- Kevin Baxter

Photo: Angels catcher Mike Napoli and left fielder Garret Anderson celebrate a home run against the Oakland A's on Aug. 27. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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