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Anderson hopes to win over dissed Cub fans, and rotation job

MESA, Ariz. — If you can’t beat them, join them?

Can you do that even after you call them “f—-g idiots”?

That’s what left-hander Brett Anderson is counting on as he hopes good health and a spot in the starting rotation will keep beer in Cubs’ fans cups and put the hefty, bearded lefty in their hearts.

When the Cubs signed the talented but injury-prone Anderson to a one-year deal in January, he drew newfound scrutiny and ire on social media from fans for a tweet he sent out the night the Cubs clinched the National League pennant at Wrigley Field against his Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cubs left-hander Brett Anderson has pitched only two full seasons since his rookie year in 2009. | John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

Anderson said he was told fans threw beer on those seated in the Dodgers family seating section.

“I definitely took my family’s side,” he said.

The tweet: “Real classy cubs fans throwing beer in the Dodgers family section. Stay classy f—–g idiots.”

“Rightfully so, some of the Cubs fans were mad,” he said Monday after surviving an early-morning bullpen session.

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“But I wasn’t calling out the whole stadium,” he said. “It wasn’t, ‘Screw you, Cubs fans.’ It was just the specific, whoever threw the beers on the family section. Everybody has their fans that are kind of rowdy and unruly and stuff. And that just happened to be the situation.

“You like those people on your side.”

Anderson, 29, feels he can make that happen by staying healthy.

The former second-round draft pick, ranked as high as
No. 7 on Baseball America’s prospect list in 2009, has pitched only two full -seasons in eight overall in the -majors, with five at under 84 -innings.

Tommy John surgery, a strained oblique, a stress fracture in his foot, a twice-broken left index finger (2014 and ’16) and two back surgeries for herniated disks have derailed his career. He made only three starts for the Dodgers last year after his most recent back surgery.

The year before, he was 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA in 31 starts for the Dodgers.

“I like my chances if I’m healthy,” Anderson said.

Anderson, who will compete for the fifth spot in the rotation against left-hander Mike Montgomery, said he feels healthy and strong.

“To pitch well early is not a concern. Health is,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I saw him with Oakland when he first came up. He was very good. He was very tough. You did not want to face him.

“Good stuff, easy stuff, like the ball got on the hitter quickly. Good breaking ball. Ground balls, strike-throwing ability — all that stuff was there. And he pitched with a real nice, calm confidence about him. He knows what he’s doing out there.”

Health is such a fundamental issue with Anderson that his one-year contract is worth $10 million if he simply makes 29 starts. It’s a guaranteed $3.5 million with bonuses added when he reaches 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26 and 29 starts.

A healthy, high-performance season could be worth even more to him.

“I played in Oakland, and they had some of the rowdiest fans,” he said. “And in the playoffs, it seemed like the Black Hole for the Raiders games were in Oakland. You obviously like the fans that are on your side.”

Beer throwing aside, he said he has been impressed with the size and volume of the Wrigley Field crowds.

“Visiting there, it’s a fun crowd to play [in front of] because it’s so intimate a setting,” he said. “It feels like they’re right on top of you, and it’s so loud.”

All the better to make their intentions known and to better locate their beer pitches.

“It’ll be fun to have those people on your side,” he said.

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@GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com