White Sox

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Will Tim Anderson prove himself the shortstop of the future?

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USA TODAY

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Will Tim Anderson prove himself the shortstop of the future?

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

Tim Anderson has the full support of the White Sox and seems like a new man after a trying 2017 campaign.

But there are still plenty of questions surrounding him heading into 2018, putting him in the company of a lot of his teammates who are also embarking on "prove it" seasons on the South Side.

Is Anderson the shortstop of the future? For now, the obvious answer is yes, as the White Sox have seemingly placed their chips on the 24-year-old, who is signed through the 2022 season. Anderson will get every opportunity to show that he's the everyday answer up the middle for years to come.

But with highly touted prospects penciled in at seemingly every other position on the field, can Anderson keep up and meet the high expectations as the wave of talent reaches the big league level?

It's easy to forget that Anderson hasn't been a big leaguer very long. He's yet to play in 250 major league games. But his first full season — and more specifically the numbers he produced during it — have left some fans to wonder if an upgrade will eventually be needed at shortstop.

Anderson committed 28 errors in the field, the most in the majors by a pretty wide margin, and he slashed just .257/.276/.402, walking only 13 times compared to 162 strikeouts. His .679 OPS ranked 135th out of 144 qualified major league hitters.

That's not to say there weren't positive signs. Anderson made just six errors over the season's final two and a half months. And at the plate, he had a strong finish, slashing .323/.338/.474 with three homers, nine doubles, 13 RBIs and 23 runs scored in his last 32 games.

But in 2018, Anderson will have to prove which version is the real him: the one from the season's first few months or the one from the last couple?

Obviously the off-the-field circumstances that made their way onto the field had a lot to do with things. Anderson admitted that the emotional effects of the death of his best friend impacted his play. And that, of course, is understandable. He's seemed much different in interviews this offseason and during spring training. He said during SoxFest that "to get away from baseball was definitely the best thing to happen" and it allowed him to get to "a better place."

What kind of impact that will have remains to be seen. Anderson doesn't have to worry about one of these young guys coming for his job, as there isn't a highly ranked shortstop in the White Sox loaded farm system. But fans have been coveting Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado for years, and he's moved to shortstop for the 2018 season. He's set to be one of the headlining members of next winter's monster free-agent class.

So just like so many of his teammates — Matt Davidson, Nicky Delmonico, Carson Fulmer, Yolmer Sanchez and even Avisail Garcia — Anderson will have to spend the 2018 campaign (he'll get a little longer than that and longer than any of those guys, you would figure) to prove that he is a member, and in his case a starring member, of the White Sox promising future.

Different feeling in White Sox clubhouse after positive update on Danny Farquhar: 'Something like this really lifts the spirits up'

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AP

Different feeling in White Sox clubhouse after positive update on Danny Farquhar: 'Something like this really lifts the spirits up'

The past couple days were a scary waiting game for the White Sox.

They watched as their teammate was carried out of the dugout and taken to the hospital during Friday night’s game. Before Saturday’s game, they learned he suffered a brain hemorrhage. “Stable but critical” was the update, and they were worried.

But positive news on Danny Farquhar came Monday afternoon, and guys stood at their lockers invigorated by an update that said their teammate was “progressing well.”

“When it happened, we all had that gut feeling in our stomachs, like, ‘What is going on?’ And then some info started coming in, and we were very concerned and worried about his health and his family, especially,” fellow reliever Nate Jones said Monday. “But to get something like this really lifts the spirits up for sure.”

“Over the last 24 hours there’s been a lot of good news,” pitcher James Shields said. “Obviously he’s not out of the water yet, but I think the good news is definitely needed for him and his family. I’m happy that things are going smooth so far.”

Monday’s update included the news that Saturday surgery was successful and that Farquhar was moving his extremities and talking with doctors and his family. His condition was still described as stable but critical, however, and his teammates know he’s not just going to walk back into the clubhouse tomorrow.

He’s been in their thoughts and the thoughts of plenty of other major league players and teams. The White Sox had his jersey hanging in the bullpen during their games Saturday and Sunday. The Tampa Bay Rays had Farquhar’s jersey hanging in their dugout in St. Petersburg over the weekend. The Seattle Mariners, who arrived on the South Side for a three-game set starting Monday, immediately hung Farquhar’s jersey in their dugout. And teams sent good wishes on social media throughout the weekend.

“We have his jersey out there hanging in the bullpen with us because we want to not completely black it out because it actually did happen and he’s one of our brothers. And we want to remember that and try to represent that the best that we can,” Jones said. “You always think about it, it’s always there, but when it’s time to do your job, you try not to think about it and do the best for him.”

“I’ve had text messages from across the league paying their condolences to the family,” Shields said. “Baseball in general is a family. Whether you know somebody or not, you feel for him. We have a brotherhood here. We’re just really supporting him and his family right now. Around the league, that’s great.”

The well wishes and the thoughts and the prayers are still constantly flowing Farquhar’s way from the White Sox clubhouse and clubhouses all over the game. And as part of that, his teammates are also eager to talk about what kind of guy Farquhar is. Monday, they revealed that Farquhar is a fountain of information out in the bullpen. Quizzes seem to be lobbed daily in the direction of the guy they call “Google” and “Statcast.”

“He’s always smiling, laughing, he’s always joking around. We call him ‘Google,’” bullpen-mate Aaron Bummer said. “He’s full of knowledge, man. If we ever need anything, anything about pitching, he does a lot of that analytics stuff. He’s awesome, man. He’s a good resource for everyone, he’s a great resource for me as a rookie and all the young guys. We miss him a lot and wish him well.”

“He knows a lot about everything,” Jones said. “He’s what we would call a ‘stat rat.’ We call him Google, we call him Statcast. He knows a lot, and it’s intriguing. Keeps us loose out in the bullpen, that’s for sure. … Every day we have something for him, talking about spin rates and all that good stuff. We’ve had fun with him.”

That’s been a constant refrain over the past few days, that Farquhar, who’s made a long journey throughout the major and minor leagues to reach this point of a seven-year big league veteran, is a great guy, a funny guy and a joy to be around for his teammates.

So it’s understandable that they want to see him as soon as they can.

“We sent him some texts, telling him that we’re wishing him well, we’re praying for him and our thoughts are with him. I think that at this point in time, that’s pretty much the extend of what we’re able to do,” Bummer said. “Once he kind of progresses a little bit more, I’m sure guys in the clubhouse are going to get over and go see him, but as of right now we’re still respecting the privacy and listening to what the doctors say and praying for the best.”

“Hopefully soon. No one really knows, but we know that he’s got a long road to go,” Jones said. “We’re just praying that it’s soon.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Positive signs for Danny Farquhar

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Positive signs for Danny Farquhar

With news that White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar is making progress after suffering a brain hemorrhage during the game on Friday, Chuck Garfien spoke with his bullpen mate Hector Santiago who provided new information about Farquhar's improving condition. Santiago talks about Danny's fun personality, why he's bringing Farquhar's jersey out to the bullpen every night, the stroke of luck that the incident occurred during a baseball game and more.