Eager to help White Sox, TA makes 1st career start at 2nd

June 24th, 2023

CHICAGO -- There were no balloons or cake to be found in the White Sox clubhouse at Guaranteed Rate Field in order to celebrate ’s 30th birthday prior to Friday’s 3-1 series-opening loss to the Red Sox.

Instead, the veteran received the gift of a position change for at least one game, with Anderson starting at second base for the first time in his Major League career. Anderson was not in manager Pedro Grifol’s original Friday lineup, having been out of action since June 17 in Seattle with right shoulder soreness aside from a pinch-hit groundout on June 20.

But Grifol reconvened the media 45 minutes after his first session to explain Anderson’s second base start after 817 games at shortstop and 814 starts.

“He threw, started playing, was taking his ground balls at short and he brought it up to me where, ‘I can play second if we need it,’” Grifol said. “I asked him, 'How do you feel with it?' And he said, ‘I’d like to go over there to get in the lineup. I would like to be a part of this thing.’

“We talked about it. Obviously got [general manager] Rick [Hahn] involved, and he’s going to play second base. This is about him wanting to be a part of this lineup tonight and helping us win a baseball game.”

Grifol mentioned twice not to read too much into this change as something permanent.

“After the game, we’ll evaluate it like if he wasn’t playing,” Grifol said. “See where his arm is and we’ll make a decision on where he plays tomorrow. All intentions are for him to go back to shortstop.”

Trea Turner and his five home runs primarily played shortstop for Team USA during the 2023 World Baseball Classic, with Anderson moving to second base. Anderson hit .333 with an .881 OPS over six games for Team USA and realized there could be a future at second.

But upon his return to White Sox Spring Training in March, Anderson smiled and made it clear shortstop was his priority. His shoulder soreness made second base a better current fit, with the length of the throw in the hole at shortstop being Anderson’s concern, according to Grifol’s pregame comments.

Despite the stop at second, Anderson’s target is a quick and healthy return to his position.

“I hope so. We’ll see how the shoulder keeps feeling and take it day by day,” Anderson said. “Just trying to get in the lineup. I played some second in the WBC, so definitely was an option tonight.”

“He knows what he can handle and what he can’t. He knows his body,” Grifol said. “He knows how he feels. I don’t think he would ever put himself in harm’s way. If he wants to be a part of it like he told me he did, it’s a good team move for him.”

Elvis Andrus, who was also a career shortstop until he returned to the White Sox during Spring Training via free agency as their second baseman, continues to start at shortstop. He committed an error in the fourth on Masataka Yoshida’s leadoff grounder, which was followed by Rafael Devers’ Statcast-projected 434-foot home run as the culmination of an eight-pitch at-bat against  (5-5).

Boston (40-37) scored another unearned run in the third when Anderson missed Giolito’s pickoff throw at second and the ball rolled far enough away to allow David Hamilton to score.

“I just didn’t see it,” Anderson said. “Didn’t pick it up.”

Giolito struck out 10 over six and Chicago lost a game while allowing four or fewer hits and recording at least 17 strikeouts for the first time in franchise history. It’s only the sixth occurrence in Major League Baseball since 1975, according to the White Sox.

They fell to 32-45 overall, 3-9 in their last 12 and 4-13 against the American League East. Their AL Central deficit dipped to seven behind the Twins, as their offense stayed dormant.

“We’ve got to string base hits together, base hits and walks together, and we’ve got to hit homers with men on base,” Grifol said. “That’s it. The bottom line. Today was a great pitching performance. We weren’t able to step on home plate.”

“If I made better pitches to Devers and didn’t give up a homer, then it would’ve been a different game, so I only have myself to blame for that,” Giolito said. “Overall, one, maybe two, three mistakes, I’ll take that, personally. But I want to win, so it is frustrating.”