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Anderson playing with vigor in 3rd season

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Tim Anderson is once again having fun playing baseball.

That fact won't change for the 24-year-old White Sox shortstop, regardless of criticism from Houston starting pitcher Justin Verlander or anyone else outside the organization.

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CHICAGO -- Tim Anderson is once again having fun playing baseball.

That fact won't change for the 24-year-old White Sox shortstop, regardless of criticism from Houston starting pitcher Justin Verlander or anyone else outside the organization.

View Full Game Coverage

"I felt like I went through too much last year to not have fun," Anderson said. "I'm not going to let anybody take it away from me.

"It was tough getting to this point. Just because someone says something, I'm not going to back step or step down. For the most part, I can care less about what anybody says about me. I'm trying to have fun."

Anderson dealt with the tragic shooting death of his close friend, Branden Moss, and other family issues during the 2017 season. The situation was troubling enough that the affable Anderson wasn't sleeping regularly and eventually sought out professional counseling to get back on track.

Verlander took Anderson to task for trying to steal on a 3-0 pitch with a 5-0 deficit in the bottom of the fifth last Friday, making a celebratory motion at second even after Omar Narvaez walked on that 3-0 pitch, and then trying to steal third, leading to a Verlander pickoff. That pickoff, which Verlander considered another bad baseball play, shows the attention on the basepaths Anderson is drawing, but it's also part of the learning process for a player in only his third big league season.

Video: HOU@CWS: Verlander and Anderson exchange words

"He's playing with a different energy so far this year and he's done an amazing job," White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing said. "He's continuing to grow at such a young age."

"As I keep maturing and keep breaking down these pitchers, I'm going to learn a lot more and it's going to get better," Anderson said. "It's not the first time I'm going to get picked off, and not going to be the last one. I'm going to keep working."

The learning process will come from within for Anderson, and his style of play won't be altered -- even by a potential Hall of Famer's critiques.

"I did have much respect for [Verlander], but he felt like he had to say something to me because I was playing my game how I wanted to play it," said Anderson, who acknowledge Verlander threw "a heck of a game" against them. "That's not there anymore.

"Once you rub me the wrong way, it's going to be tough to get back with me. Everybody is tough in between the lines. But I was playing my game and that's how I play. He felt like he wanted to speak up. That's fine. It don't bother me. I'm going to keep doing what I do."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Tim Anderson