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Anderson focused on playing SS for White Sox

@scottmerkin
February 20, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There will be plenty of media questions coming Tim Anderson’s way as one of the young leaders for the rebuilding White Sox. But as of Tuesday afternoon, Anderson no longer will have to talk about Manny Machado potentially coming to the White Sox or discuss the remote

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There will be plenty of media questions coming Tim Anderson’s way as one of the young leaders for the rebuilding White Sox.

But as of Tuesday afternoon, Anderson no longer will have to talk about Manny Machado potentially coming to the White Sox or discuss the remote possibility of Anderson moving off a shortstop position he has made his own. He’s certainly glad to be focused back on the club currently working toward what it hopes is a special 2019 season.

“Maybe ya’ll can stop asking me now,” Anderson said. “I could not care less about [Bryce] Harper and Machado’s situation. I know where we’re headed. We have a great group of guys here.

“I got asked about it, continuously asked about it, but it never bothered me. It never worried me. Never once was in my mind. I didn’t catch up on the news until SoxFest. I didn’t care. I never cared. I’m a care-free guy. I got a million other things going on to worry about than if somebody is going to sign with us or not.”

It’s understandable if Anderson projects a highly confident, bordering on defiant, attitude when referring specifically to his position. Since the day he was selected 17th overall in the 2013 MLB Draft, people have talked about Anderson’s athletic ability and a previous lack of true baseball experience eventually moving him to center field.

His 53 errors committed over the first 145 Minor League games played at shortstop seemed to fuel that argument. But Anderson worked tirelessly, going out early at Spring Training and before batting practice for regular season contests, to become a steady presence in the field. During the months of July, August and September in 2018, Anderson committed eight errors total.

“The big question when I first came on a few years ago was whether he could go in the hole, and you’ve heard me talk about that a lot. It has become one of his marquee plays now,” manager Rick Renteria said. “His glove side and backhand play has improved immensely.

“Coming forward and balancing the time he works around the bag, and in general, the time it takes to make plays in the middle, he’s getting a lot of knowledge. I really don’t think it was a question for him in his mind whether it was his position or not.

“He was making a stand or a comment probably just letting you know how confident he is about the ability he has to play the game at shortstop,” Renteria said. “I don’t think that was ever a question for any of us.”

Some of those stellar defensive plays Anderson made last year were purely off athleticism. As he learns the game and couples it with athleticism, the sky is the limit.

This offseason also featured Anderson working on his timing so he could improve offensively. Anderson set career highs in home runs, RBIs, doubles, walks, stolen bases and runs scored in 2018, but he is looking to improve on a .240 average and .687 OPS.

“He is shifting from a basketball player that is playing baseball to a baseball player that used to play basketball,” Renteria said, referring to Anderson’s resume entering pro ball. “That’s where’s he’s at right now.”

“I’ve been feeling like an athlete just playing, and now I’m learning the game more. Maturing more,” Anderson said. “I’m excited where I’m at and the direction I’m headed.”

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.