McPherson was supposed to be one of the Angels power bats last season, growing into the role by mid-year to provide punch to the middle of the order. But a bulging disk in his lower back derailed most of last spring, and McPherson opened the year at Triple-A Salt Lake. By July, his season was essentially over.
Appearing in 61 games for the Angels last year, McPherson hit .244 with eight homers, 14 doubles and 26 RBIs. While he struggled at times and struck out 64 times in 205 at-bats, he also demonstrated the ability to alter a game.
McPherson homered in three straight games from May 26-28. He turned a 2-1 deficit into an eventual 3-2 win over the White Sox on May 26 when he drilled a seventh-inning two-run homer off Jose Contreras. The following night, McPherson hit a solo walk-off home run off Royals reliever Mike MacDougal in the bottom of the 10th as the Angels scored a wild 9-8 comeback victory.
Then in Texas on June 29, McPherson came off the bench to hit a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth off Rangers closer Francisco Cordero to tie a game the Angels would eventually win in 11 innings.
While he doesn't hold any delusions of being the guy to turn around a ballclub that finished 10th in the American League with 147 homers and hit .175 in the American League Championship Series as it was eliminated by the White Sox in five games, McPherson does want to return to the lineup and show what he can do.
"Anytime you can add Konerko or Manny, you do it," McPherson said. "But everyone wants to be the guy. I'm definitely going to have my struggles, but I feel I can fill that void."
The presence of McPherson and the 40 homers he hit during the 2004 season at two Minor League stops helped the Angels to come to the decision to let Troy Glaus leave through free agency and hand McPherson the starting third baseman job.
Known more for his offense than his defense, McPherson played much better in the field than expected, but that is also where he experienced more pain. He said he could get past the discomfort in his back and hip that was caused by swinging the bat, but playing nine innings in the field was a different matter.
As the season wore on, McPherson said he couldn't play more than a couple of days without his left side locking up. After being placed on the disabled list on July 8, McPherson underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur and clean up the hip joint on Aug. 30.
McPherson spent 10 weeks on crutches and was told it would take about 16 weeks to resume baseball activities. Since getting off the crutches, McPherson said he has been doing strengthening and agility exercises and some light jogging, but he is still a couple of weeks away from running at a greater intensity.
He plans to pick up a ball and begin his normal offseason throwing routine Thursday, and he hopes to begin taking some dry swings next week. If that goes well, McPherson said he will hit from a batting tee around the Christmas holiday.
"I'm not where I want to be yet, but it feels so much better to be able to do the exercises and not feel any pain," McPherson said. "I have some tenderness because of the surgery, but nothing that prevents me from doing anything."
McPherson said he is 100 percent confident that he will be ready to go by spring and is looking forward to competing for his old job.
"I know it is not going to be given to me; I will have to earn it," McPherson said.