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Midseason turnaround has allowed Tim Anderson to get 'back to myself'

CLEVELAND -- What was supposed to be a restful day for Tim Anderson included five minutes tidying up a clubhouse prank.

Out of the lineup for Saturday’s game, Anderson arrived at Progressive Field in the afternoon to find his clubhouse stall enveloped in red masking tape with a sign that said “Off” taped to his chair.

At the end of a long and trying season, Anderson appreciated the humor in a prank perfectly executed by first baseman Jose Abreu. It’s just another enjoyable episode for Anderson, who has rebounded and rediscovered his game over the season’s final two months.

“I feel great,” Anderson said. “I’m feeling good and doing what I’m supposed to do, getting back to myself.

“Kind of have to learn from (this season).

“Definitely going to remember this season for the rest of my life. Something I can carry with me. Kind of proud of the way it ended.”

Anderson went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and an error on a routine play in Friday night’s loss to the Cleveland Indians. It was a rare off night for the second-year player, who has responded with two months of great play to the toughest stretch of his career.

Since Aug. 1, Anderson is hitting .299/.314/.493 with 13 doubles, three triples, eight home runs and 27 RBIs in 226 plate appearances. Those numbers are a huge improvement over the first four months of the season, where Anderson struggled after signing a contract extension in March. Part of it could be attributed to a sophomore slump. But the bulk of Anderson’s troubles came from difficulty coping with the death of close friend Branden Moss, who was shot while aiding an assault victim on May 7.

“He had some things go on this year that really tested him,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think he’s come out of it pretty well and I think he’ll learn from it. He’s going to gain some more maturity as a man and I think he’ll continue to improve as a player. I think he’s done a nice job over the last four or five weeks and we’ve started to see a Tim Anderson that’s pretty good out there.”

Though he described his season as up and down, Anderson always tries to look for the positives he can take from it. Abreu’s prank for instance, was a light moment to start a day of rest off on the right foot. Anderson snapped a photo of his locker for his Instagram account and began to slowly unwrap everything so he could get dressed.

“Took me a little while to take the tape off,” Anderson said. “It was very funny though.”