TORONTO -- The White Sox are playing the long game, and so is Tim Anderson.
If Chicago was nursing a tight divisional lead, and the season was down to its final days, Anderson wouldn’t have missed any time with leg soreness. Instead, as the White Sox boasted a nine-game lead entering Tuesday with over a month to play, Anderson sat out for a fourth consecutive game.
“Just being smart,” Anderson said. “We all know what the ultimate goal is; all our eyes [are] on October. But you know, man, it’s tough, knowing the team’s needing me out there. I want to be out there. The only way I'm not out there is if something is going on.”
What’s been going on is a bit of hamstring tightness, which Anderson noticed after his three-hit, four-run game against the Rays on Friday night. The White Sox have only scored five runs in three games (all losses) since then.
It’s not exactly fair to call the White Sox shorthanded, though, because that’s how they’ve been throughout the season. With injuries to Anderson, Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Yasmani Grandal and others, the team has yet to fill out a lineup card at full strength.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa believes Anderson used “good sense” by being honest about how his legs felt and exercising caution. Anderson fielded grounders and took batting practice on the field at Rogers Centre prior to the games on Monday and Tuesday. He was available to pinch-hit Tuesday night, and he’s expected to return atop the batting order Wednesday.
Keeping one of the team’s brightest stars on the shelf for a few days makes more sense than risking a more serious injury. After all, Anderson missed 10 days in April with a left hamstring strain. This time, he chalks up his ailment to the grind of a long season, and he insists he’s been “feeling great” the past two days.
If everything goes according to plan, the season is about to get a bit longer for Anderson and the White Sox. They intend to play deep into October, and no one is more committed than Anderson: a team leader with his energy and on-the-field production.
“When your best players are the most committed, then everybody gets a boost,” La Russa said. “He’s infectious. We’re not celebrating anything yet, but we know we’re in a good position and just got to put wins together, starting tonight.”