White Sox

Will 'extraordinarily frustrating' stretch finally end for White Sox?

Will 'extraordinarily frustrating' stretch finally end for White Sox?

When will an “extraordinarily frustrating” stretch finally come to an end for the White Sox?

Those were the words general manager Rick Hahn used to describe the last month prior to the White Sox ending a five-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Washington Nationals in front of 20,014 at U.S. Cellular Field Thursday night. Before Miguel Gonzalez threw the first pitch of the game, the team made a flurry of moves: Right-hander Mat Latos was designated for assignment, right-hander Tyler Danish was called up from Double-A and first baseman Justin Morneau was signed to a one-year, $1 million deal. 

On one hand, the White Sox are still within striking distance in a diluted American League Central currently led by the Cleveland Indians. On the other, though, there’s a sense of urgency to get things turned around for a team that’s absorbed brutal loss after brutal loss since the beginning of May. 

“Certainly after being 23-10 there was probably going to be a little bit of giveback,” Hahn said. “But by no means did we anticipate this dramatic and immediate correction. Extraordinarily frustrating. It’s time for it to end.”

Thursday night’s win was a necessary start for a team that entered the day having lost 20 of its last 26 games. 

Gonzalez cruised through six innings, allowing just a solo home run to Daniel Murphy with no walks and five strikeouts to earn his first win since July 25, 2015. The biggest moment of his evening came in his sixth and final inning when, with runners on second and third and nobody out, shortstop Tyler Saladino made an excellent throw home to nab Nats catcher Jose Lobaton. Jayson Werth hit into a double play one batter later that kept Washington off the board.

“It's what we needed,” manager Robin Ventura said of Gonzalez’s start. “If anything, the way the last few days have gone for us, you need some length and you need a guy to shut them down. I think he did all of that.”

Former South Side farmhand Gio Gonzalez was erratic early on, and the White Sox capitalized. Melky Cabrera’s two-run double was followed by a Brett Lawrie RBI double to net all three of the team’s runs in the first inning. 

After that rough frame, the Nationals left-hander scattered three hits and racked up 10 strikeouts. But thanks to the right-handed Gonzalez and a lockdown setup effort from Zach Duke and Nate Jones — and a save from David Robertson that came with the tying run on first base — it didn’t matter. 

“Big time. Bad,” catcher Dioner Navarro said when asked how badly the White Sox needed Thursday’s win. “We’ve been scuffling. We are in a bad spot right now. But we know what it takes. We know what we gotta do. We just got to continue to do it. Baby steps, so hopefully we keep doing what we’ve been doing, what we did tonight.”

The win brought the White Sox back to .500 after spending a day under water, but this is still a team that’s only won one series over the last month. And after taking two out of three from the New York Mets after Memorial Day, the White Sox were swept out of Detroit and then blown out in back-to-back games by the Nationals. 

While Hahn’s latest moves were another attempt at finding a spark, he’s not worried about the makeup and attitude in the clubhouse. Eventually, though, things have to turn around for good. Whether that process began Thursday night remains to be seen. 

“Coming out of two big wins in New York it felt like we started maybe to turn the tide and play a little bit more like we had over the first 30-plus games,” Hahn said. “So certainly (we) know the preparation's there, the focus is there, the energy and the commitment is there, it's just a matter of we've got to start getting results.”

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.”