ANAHEIM -- Hit like Barry Bonds? Garret Anderson gave it some thought and then a shot, but the Angels' left fielder quickly abandoned the batting-cage experiment, returning to his own, more liberating style of hitting. "I tried it, to see what it was like, but it didn't feel right," Anderson said. "I couldn't get comfortable with it. "Barry chokes up on a smaller bat and has an extremely compact swing. That gives him a more limited area to hit in. He's very selective, and that enables him to work counts and get pitches in that very small hitting zone. It's not easy to hit that way. That's why you don't see guys emulating Barry. It's pretty unique to him."
Anderson has a more aggressive approach than the home run kingpin, coming out of the chute swinging if he sees something he feels he can drive with his longer swing. When he's on his game, Anderson is smashing line drives to all fields, with almost twice as many doubles (450) as homers (247) in his career. A .296 career hitter, Anderson believes he could have hit in the .315 to .320 range if he'd focused from the beginning on hitting in the mold of Rod Carew or Tony Gwynn. Paid to drive in runs, he's the franchise leader with 1,163 RBIs -- and counting. Anderson says he doesn't take it personally when media and fans clamor for a loud bat in support of Vladimir Guerrero. "That's never bothered me at all," Anderson said in the afterglow of a three-RBI performance in Sunday's 4-3 win over the A's in Oakland. "I never paid much attention to it. I know what I'm capable of doing when I'm healthy and playing every day." Anderson has been dogged by injuries dating to what was diagnosed as early undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis in 2004, when he made his first career trip to the disabled list. Playing through a variety of ailments, he delivered 96 RBIs in 2005 and 85 last year. He's been on the DL twice this season with a torn right hip flexor, forcing him to miss 46 games. Back since July 2, Anderson has hit .327 in 26 games, finding the groove that made him a respected weapon from 1995 through 2003. During his 2000 through 2003 peak years, he averaged 30 homers and 120 RBIs. "It's a good feeling to drive the ball like that -- that's what I've done for years," Anderson said, having lashed three lasers -- a triple, sacrifice fly and single -- for critical runs Sunday, striking twice with two outs. That gave him 15 RBIs in his past 11 games going into Monday night's assignment against Boston's Curt Schilling. Dan Haren, Oakland's Cy Young Award candidate, expressed a healthy respect for Anderson and his impact behind Guerrero after facing them on Sunday. "It's kind of pick your poison to me," Haren said. "We weren't going to let Vlad beat us, but Garret hits me pretty well (11-for-27). I fell behind him twice, and he made me pay. That's a tough 3-4 in their lineup." For the 2002 World Series champions, Anderson delivered 29 homers and 123 RBIs along with a league-best 56 doubles while batting .306. Manager Mike Scioscia is confident Anderson can help Guerrero with the heavy lifting down the stretch in pursuit of another memorable October. "We need him," Scioscia said. "We know what Garret Anderson can do. For his whole career, he's been an RBI machine. We need that part in our lineup, and we have a lot of confidence he's going to be there." Aybar activated: The Angels added depth to their roster with the return of Erick Aybar to active duty on Monday. Relief pitcher Marc Gwyn was returned to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for the versatile Aybar, who can play the outfield as well as shortstop, second and third base. Maicer Izturis, solid offensively and defensively at second in Howie Kendrick's absence, remained in the lineup for the first of three games against the Red Sox. "We'll get [Aybar] playing time somewhere," Scioscia said. "Right now Izzy's playing terrific baseball. I want to keep guys where they're not stretched too thin. That's where Erick fits in. Our bench has been very inexperienced. To get Erick back, Howie back, it's going to help us with options." Kendrick is at least two weeks away, it appears, as he resumes baseball-related activities after fracturing his left index finger and going on the DL retroactive to July 9. Minor sensations: Kasey Olenberger strengthened his case for a serious look with the Angels, yielding one run on four hits and a walk while striking out eight in seven innings of a 6-1 victory for Salt Lake against Round Rock. Olenberger, 29, from Piner (Santa Rosa, Calif.) High School and Long Beach State, has been the Bees' reliable ace all year. The 6-foot-4 right-hander is 10-5 with a 4.50 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, walking 34 and striking out 103 in 152 innings. Right-hander Steve Marek, 23, worked 6 1/3 scoreless innings for Class A Rancho Cucamonga in a 5-2 win over Stockton. Marek is 6-8 with a 4.32 ERA (79 strikeouts, 41 walks in 103 1/3 innings). On Aug. 6 in Angels history: Bobby Bonds drove in the winning run as Fast Frank Tanana outdueled Vida Blue, 2-1, in a 1976 showdown of dominant lefties in Oakland. Tanana struck out 13 and gave up four hits in going the distance. Up next: Southpaw Joe Saunders (5-0, 3.10) faces Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (13-9, 4.55) Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. PT.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.