Brought in to bolster a young lineup, the 29-year-old McAnulty has delivered in a big way. He's posted a hitting streak of 15 games -- the longest in the Texas League this season -- and currently sits among the league leaders with seven home runs, including a two-run blast that ended a 16-inning marathon at Tulsa on May 6.
McAnulty, a left-handed hitter who serves as the Travelers' designated hitter and also fills in at first base and in the outfield, is a former member of the San Diego Padres. He signed with the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason.
"If I didn't have that hunger, I wouldn't be here," McAnulty said. "I'd be at home trying to start another career. I'm going to play until they tear the uniform off my back."
Though the Minor Leagues are known for cultivating young prospects, few teams get through a season without an experienced free agent or two. In return, these free agents can provide know-how to younger players and perhaps even wind up as the final piece of a championship puzzle.
This year, the Travelers returned one position player -- second baseman Ryan Mount, currently on the disabled list -- and the Angels promoted a wave of younger players from the Class A ranks. McAnulty was the only free agent acquired for Arkansas.
"For me, this is about the only spot that was really open," said McAnulty, who enjoyed four stints in the Majors with the Padres from 2005-08. "It's pretty tough out there on Minor League free agents. Shoot, I'm coming out here to do my job, which is to swing the bat and get out of here."
And swing McAnulty has. He batted .357 during his 15-game hitting streak, which ended April 29 against Tulsa, and was batting .305 entering Monday's action.
"Anytime I'm ahead in the count, I'm looking for something I can hit hard," said McAnulty. "I don't care where it is -- up, down, in out. All I want to do is just hit the ball hard, and if it happens to go over the fence, it goes over the fence. But that's all I want to do is just make hard contact."
McAnulty, a career .294 hitter in the Minors entering this season, spent last year in the Boston and Colorado organizations. His best big league average was .231, which he achieved in 16 games with the Padres in 2006.
It's a cruelty of baseball that a 29-year-old like McAnulty might be considered long in the tooth, but he thinks he still has plenty to give, hopefully to a Major League team.
Whether that chance comes or not, McAnulty doesn't shirk from his current job as the Travelers' elder statesman.
"I wouldn't be much of a teammate if I just came in here and kept my mouth shut and just went about my business," McAnulty said.
Arkansas manager Bobby Magallanes said young guys are more willing to listen to a veteran like McAnulty when he delivers at the plate.
"He's been great," Magallanes said. "He's done everything we've asked of him, and he's done everything that we expected from him."
Slump buster: It looks like Frisco second baseman Matt Lawson is emerging from his funk. Lawson broke an 0-for-11 skid with an RBI single in Saturday's 3-1 victory over Midland, then belted a second-inning grand slam against the RockHounds on Sunday to propel the RoughRiders to their seventh straight victory.
Defensive posture: Arkansas tied a Texas League record with seven double plays in Thursday's 16-inning victory at Tulsa. The Travelers turned three in extra innings, and the Drillers stranded 15 runners and left the bases loaded in the ninth and 10th.
A-listers: The Northwest Arkansas Naturals boasted the league's top hitter and pitcher entering the week. Third baseman Mike Moustakas was hitting .379 with six home runs and 20 RBIs, while left-hander Edgar Osuna was 4-1 with a 1.09 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 33 innings.