White Sox

White Sox promote top prospect Tim Anderson, designate Jimmy Rollins for assignment

White Sox promote top prospect Tim Anderson, designate Jimmy Rollins for assignment

Tim Anderson has forced the White Sox to act.

The shortstop, the team’s top prospect according to Baseball America, has been promoted to the major leagues on Friday from Triple-A Charlotte. To make room on the 40-man roster for the club’s 2013 first-round pick, former National League Most Valuable Player Jimmy Rollins has been designated for assignment.

The moves come 24 hours after the White Sox gave starting pitcher Mat Latos his walking papers and promoted rookie pitcher Tyler Danish to the majors. The promotion also took place much earlier than the White Sox originally anticipated -- they intended for Anderson to spend all season at Charlotte. But a recent hot streak by Anderson, who is hitting .304/.325/.409 with four home runs, 20 RBIs and 11 steals in 256 plate appearances, and a lackluster offense have spurred the White Sox into action.

“So far (Anderson) has done his part to force up that time frame,” general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday. “Ultimately, when Tim arrives in Chicago it will be because we feel he’s ready to help make us better, not because of anything that is going on in this clubhouse. More about what Tim is capable of doing at the big league level. We’ll pick that time accordingly.”

The time is now, apparently.

Not only is Anderson hot, Rollins and the White Sox have been quite the opposite.

Rollins had a .624 OPS through 166 plate appearances this season, including a .502 mark against right-handed pitchers. Since May 13, Rollins has a .528 OPS in 58 plate appearances for a team that has lost 20 of its last 27. Recently, second-year shortstop Tyler Saladino has played more often for the White Sox, who are averaging 4.02 runs per game.

Meanwhile, Anderson has torn up International League pitching for more than a month after a slow start. Part of his hot streak has included a much-improved strikeout rate. Anderson, who is hitting .361/.382/.517 with 13 extra-base hits and seven steals in his last 153 plate appearances, has reduced his K-rate by nearly 10 percent.

Anderson, who turns 23 later this month, struck out 29 times in his first 103 plate appearances or 28.1 percent of the time. He has whiffed 29 times in his last 153 PAs (18.9 percent). He has only walked eight times this season.

While a period of adjustment to major league pitching is expected, the White Sox think Anderson can handle it. Outfielder J.B. Shuck said he’s very impressed with how Anderson comports himself after the two spent more than a month together at Charlotte.

“He has that personality where he’s not going to get rattled by anything,” Shuck said earlier this month. “I think he’ll do well when he gets his chance.

“He got a little taste (of adversity) this year. When I first went down, he might have been hitting .215 or .220 and you would have never known. He went about his business and continued to have fun and just got better. It clicked for him or whatever it was. I think he went on a stretch where I don’t think he got out for like six games. That’s just his personality and that’s why I think when he does get up here, he’s going to do well.”

Anderson’s arrival comes only three years and four days after the White Sox made him the 17th pick out of East Central CC in Decatur, Miss. Of the players drafted ahead of him, only the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, the Colorado Rockies’ Jon Gray and Miami Marlins’ Colin Moran arrived in the majors faster.

Hahn has long suggested Anderson could force his way into the majors at some point this season. But he also noted it would be up to the player --- that the White Sox wouldn’t call him up unless he was ready.

“You’ll know when you see him walk through that clubhouse door,” Hahn said Tuesday. “A month ago I was asked about by national reporter if there was concern about Tim Anderson. And now rightfully so people are asking if he’s ready. Shows how quickly things can turn and when guys can push the time frame it comes quickly. Our belief from the start of the offseason was Tim is a level to level guy who performed well at each level, but in all probability he’s going to have to spend a year in Charlotte. We tried to remain open minded and the good ones have a way to force the time frame.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Meet the real Tim Anderson

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Meet the real Tim Anderson

On the latest White Sox Talk Podcast, Tim Anderson opens up about his struggles in 2017 and why he wants White Sox fans "to know the real me."

Anderson dives into his personal tragedy from last season when his best friend was murdered in Alabama. 

He talks with Chuck Garfien about the dark days that happened, how counseling helped him, his new leadership role in 2018, if he'll draw more walks this season, "bringing swag to the South Side" with Yoan Moncada and much more.

Listen to the full White Sox Talk Podcast right here:

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

GLENDALE, AZ --  There’s a different Tim Anderson at White Sox spring training this year.

You can see it on his face  You can hear it in his voice.

“I’m busting out of the shell. I’m talking more,” he said as he sat down for an interview with NBC Sports Chicago (in the video above).

It’s not the new Tim Anderson. It turns out, it’s the real one that’s been there all along.

“This is me. It’s always been me. I never knew how to express myself. I feel like I’m being a lot more open,” Anderson explained. “That’s what I want to give to fans. Let them know the real me. You’re cheering for me. Why not know me? I’m being open and kind of let fans into my life.”

The White Sox shortstop has learned a lot about life in the past year. It all started in May when the White Sox were in Baltimore to play the Orioles. Anderson received a phone call at 4 a.m. It was news from back home.

It was the worst phone call of his life.

His best friend Branden Moss had been murdered in the parking lot of a Tuscaloosa, Ala., bar after helping the victim of a fight.  

The two were like brothers. Anderson is the godfather to Moss’s young daughter. Moss was the godfather to Anderson’s 2-year-old daughter.

“It was heartbreaking,” Anderson said.

While Anderson grieved, playing baseball seemed like it would be a perfect escape for his pain. Only it wasn’t. Far from it.  Baseball might have made things even worse.

In fast-paced sports like football and hockey, players don’t have much time to think. It’s react, react, react. Whatever might be happening off the field feels like a million miles away.

Not in baseball.

The game moves at a much slower speed. There’s plenty of time for your mind to wander. Thoughts kept going back to Anderson’s lost friend, taken from him in an instant.

At 23, he didn’t have the tools to deal with the emotional pain and excel at baseball at the same time.

“The year was rough. I wasn’t having fun in between the lines. I was making the game harder than it was. I was thinking too much. I was feeling sorry for myself and the list can go on. When my friend died it definitely took a lot out of me. I had a dark moment,” Anderson said. “Some days I didn’t feel comfortable coming to the ballpark because I knew it was going to be a bad day.”

Making matters worse, there were many nights when Anderson didn’t sleep. Not a wink. Still, he dragged himself to the ballpark and somehow tried to play.

The results weren’t pretty. On June 22, Anderson already had 16 errors at shortstop, most in the majors. At the plate, he was hitting .256/.284/.374 with six home runs and 19 RBIs.

He knew he was better than that. He also knew something else: He needed help.

In July, Anderson started meeting with a therapist who was able to unlock the pent up thoughts and emotions that he was burying inside him.

The therapist would write down everything that Anderson was feeling on paper and then read it back to him.

“Just going in and talking and pouring everything out of you. It lets you hear what you’ve been going through,“ Anderson said. “When she did it, it was a lot. I took what she read to me, balled it up and threw it away. I got lighter. It was a brightening. Those counseling sessions definitely helped me.”

Soon, Anderson was back to being himself both on and off the field.

In the month of August, he had 8 doubles, 5 home runs and 16 RBI.

“Woof. I was hot,” he said after hearing those stats. “That’s Tim. That’s more Tim that we need to see.”

In September, he batted .327 with 3 home runs and 9 stolen bases.

“We need a lot of that this year. That’s the way I want to go. That’s the way I want to go about it. Get back to what got me here.”

There was still an issue with his plate discipline. He had 32 strikeouts and only 1 walk in September.

“We play a tough sport as it is. They’re going to come,” Anderson said about the walks. “I mean, when I walk more, what are you going to tell me? ‘Start swinging more?’ It’s one of those things. It’s a give and take. We’ll see what happens.”

In 2017, Anderson received a crash course in adversity. What did he learn from all that pain and misery?

“Tough times happen, but they don’t last forever.”

Now that he’s survived the personal storm from last season, he wants “another shot at it. I feel like last year went left. This is new season.”

So, what does he envision for himself in 2018?

“Having fun, smiling a lot, picking up my teammates, hugging on the coaches and players. A lot of love, more so than stats,” Anderson said. “I’m fired up. I’m excited. I feel like I’m ready to lead this pack. We got a great group of guys. We’ve got a chance to do something special.”