CHICAGO -- For White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, 2017 was a year of challenges, both on the field and off.And he is determined to get right, as his recent Tweet illustrates:
CHICAGO -- For White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, 2017 was a year of challenges, both on the field and off.
And he is determined to get right, as his recent Tweet illustrates:
But he's not speaking of revenge in the traditional sense. Rather, he wants to rebound with a vengeance from a season and year that was a painful one, both personally and professionally. Anderson simply has vowed to get after the next 12 months in a rejuvenated, upbeat manner.
"I'm so excited to be able to get a new perspective on things," Anderson said in a phone interview from his home in Charlotte, N.C., a few days before he travels to Chicago for SoxFest. "I understand the game more, and I had a chance to mature a little bit more this offseason and get to know myself more, while learning a lot of things from this past season."
Anderson lost his close friend, Branden Moss, when the 23-year-old was shot and killed last May while trying to help the victim of a fight outside a bar in Tuscaloosa, Ala. But the forthcoming Anderson said he was dealing with "a bunch of family problems way before that" tragedy.
"It was more tacked on," said Anderson, who elected not to elaborate on the other issues. "It was just a lot."
The personal strain came on the heels of a six-year, $25 million extension with club options for 2023 and '24 that he signed last Spring Training, which no doubt added to the pressure on the 24-year-old entering just his second big league season.
Anderson's defense wobbled early and he finished with a Major League-worst 28 errors. After batting .204 with a .538 OPS through April, he rebounded with .319/.833 marks in May, but it didn't last. Offensive struggles throughout June and July led Anderson to seek counseling to help him handle his off-the-field issues.
It helped, and Anderson was able to end the season on an up note, batting .293 with eight homers, 13 doubles and 27 RBIs over his final 230 plate appearances. More importantly, Anderson's mental fortitude grew stronger, both on the field and away from the game.
The offseason brought another opportunity for healing. When Tim and his wife, Bria, married one year ago, there was no reception, but this offseason they made time to celebrate their marriage with a reception and also take a honeymoon to Costa Rica. They also spent time with their daughter, Peyton, who turns 2 on March 7.
Anderson, who was lovingly raised by his aunt and uncle, also had a chance to see and talk with his biological mom. And he spent time with Moss' mother, Dorothy, giving her the jersey worn during Players Weekend with the "B. Moss" tribute to her late son on the back.
While he was in Chicago working out with Curtis Granderson, Anderson got an unexpected lift from college football's championship game when his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide rallied to defeat Georgia.
"I got locked in on being with my family and being happy and having a good time," he said. "It got my mind away from things and kind of getting me back in the right mode."
The next chapter arrives in less than four weeks when the White Sox report for Spring Training. Anderson feels like a better version of his prior self, the guy who before last year was known for "having a lot of fun and just running around like my head was on fire and not afraid to do whatever."
That guy is back. And, as they say, better than ever. Perhaps better for what he has gone through.
"There were a lot of dark moments, a lot of tough spots, a lot of off-the-field issues," Anderson said. "I was overwhelmed. Just stuck in a tough spot. Getting away from it definitely helped me and kind of gave me some breathing room.
"I'm hungry and excited about this season coming up."
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.