Anderson reflects on good times and bad with White Sox

April 22nd, 2024

CHICAGO -- was on a family vacation in Jamaica in early November when White Sox general manager Chris Getz delivered the news: The team would not picking up the shortstop’s $14 million club option for the 2024 season.

"How am I the odd man out?" Anderson thought to himself.

“I really wasn’t hearing anything after he said they weren’t picking up the option. I didn’t really want to talk to him,” Anderson told before Saturday’s doubleheader for his new Marlins squad at Wrigley Field. “At the end of the day, I understood how it works and it’s my process and my journey.

“That’s what makes stories so much better when you just continue to keep going and keep fighting through adversity. That’s something I’m going through now. Just keep fighting to get back. Continue to try to attack the game in the way I know how.”

There was a time not that long ago where Anderson seemed destined for the pantheon of high-end, multi-year shortstop deals. He was a batting champ, a two-time All-Star and the author of the forever imprinted “stalk off” home run at the 2021 Field of Dreams contest.

Anderson spoke to early on in Spring Training 2023 concerning a desire to play his whole career with the White Sox. But following eight seasons on the South Side of Chicago, during which he often served as the driving force of the offense and the team, Anderson was gone via a $1 million buyout. The decision came on the heels of his worst season -- a .245/.286/.296 slash line, only one home run, 25 RBIs and an awful -16 defensive runs saved, according to Baseball-reference.

“It was terrible,” Anderson said of 2023. “I wasn’t healthy.”

After hitting .318 through the first 10 games last year, Anderson suffered a left MCL sprain on a defensive rundown play on April 10 at Target Field. Anderson returned on May 2, feeling a need to play with his contractual option looming and his ’22 season limited to 79 games partially due to a tear on the middle finger of his left hand.

“When I came back, I could barely move. I could barely use my legs. I could barely hit into my front side,” Anderson said. “That injury was one of those injuries that they told me it was going to bother me throughout the whole season. It probably wouldn’t heal.

“So, I just tried to make adjustments but really was creating bad habits. I wanted the games played. I needed to play, so I just played.”

If the season was tough for Anderson, then the offseason was even tougher. Teams were checking on what kind of person he was, according to the veteran shortstop, based on a perception the one-time face of baseball fun had become a bit aloof amid a rough personal and professional year.

Tony La Russa, with whom Anderson grew close during his two years as White Sox manager in 2021-22, spoke on his behalf to Marlins manager Skip Schumaker. White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf also told Anderson if he needed to talk to anyone, he would.

“The relationships built were still there, and they were still helping throughout this process,” Anderson said. “I kind of knew that was going to be the thing, because I talk but I barely even talk. I barely give people the insight of how I really am, especially opposing teams. Nobody knows how I am unless you come across me.

“Honestly, I released it and gave it to just trust the process. You could do good, great or bad and it’s still not in your control. What’s the point of even worrying or stressing about it? I know my talent. I just had faith that somebody would give me a call.”

A call from the White Sox ended their relationship going back to his first-round selection in the 2013 Draft. Anderson dealt with five managers and three primary hitting coaches, so the message was often changing, and Anderson tried to figure things out on his own. He’s still trying to get right, off to a .250/.289/.278 with no home runs, only two doubles and four RBIs in his first 21 games with the Marlins.

He departed Chicago with fond memories and few regrets.

“Kind of bittersweet at the end,” Anderson said. “Overall, I wouldn’t really change anything about it. It was a good experience for sure.”