Tim Anderson feels better than he has in a while and attributes much of it to attending counseling sessions. The White Sox shortstop provided more evidence of his progress on Wednesday night when he continued his hot streak with a two-run home run and an RBI double.
Anderson’s fifth-inning homer off Colin McHugh extended his hitting streak to seven games and led the White Sox to a 7-1 victory over the Houston Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field. Anderson recently started to speak to a counselor to help cope with the unexpected loss of close friend Branden Moss, who was shot and killed May 7. Moss was shot after coming to the aid of a man being assaulted outside of a bar near the University of Alabama campus.
“I’m feeling better,” Anderson said. “I was numb for a while. But I’ve been talking to a counselor and the numbness has been going away and I’ve been feeling a lot better, like myself, and just having fun with it and getting back to who I am.”
All season long, Anderson has been very upfront about his personal struggles with the death of Moss, whom he considered to be a brother. At the time of his death, the White Sox gave Anderson three days off to attend Moss’s funeral.
But Anderson had difficulty coping and it carried over to the field where he struggled defensively and at the plate. Anderson had trouble sleeping and was so worn down in Kansas City last month that the White Sox gave him two days off.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a player in my time with the club that’s been as affected by off-the-field occurrences as Timmy has this year,” general manager Rick Hahn said last month. “Everything he’s had to deal with … has made it a tough year for him. But the talent is still there … we very much view him as being an important part of our future.”
The White Sox expected Anderson would struggle some in his second season. Sophomore slumps are named just that for a reason. They happen. They’re very real.
But Anderson’s issues surpassed that and it wasn’t until recently he started to speak with a counselor. Anderson said it occurred to him after his second session on July 31 how much he was dealing with when the counselor read back a list of everything he was thinking about.
Several weeks in, Anderson has started sleeping again and feels more alert on the field, too.
“You don’t realize how numb you are until it starts going away,” Anderson said. “I definitely think I was numb and I feel a lot more like myself now that I’ve been talking to a counselor and getting it off my chest.”
The shortstop’s play looks similar to what it did in 2016 when Anderson produced 2.4 f-Wins Above Replacement. Anderson has been outstanding since nine days ago when he and Toronto’s Marcus Stroman had a shouting match that emptied the benches and has evolved into a back and forth on social media.
Not only has Anderson played cleaner baseball defensively, he also has looked more like himself at the plate, using the entire field. Anderson homered to left off McHugh in the fifth inning and later doubled in a run with a drive to deep right, a tenet of his approach when he’s going well. During his current hitting streak, Anderson has produced a .354/.354/.710 slash line with three doubles, one triple, two homers and six RBIs.
“He’s coming back around,” manager Rick Renteria said after Tuesday’s win. “He’s settling back into who he is. I think that time is doing a lot for him in terms of healing and just trying to concentrate on playing baseball. I think he’s starting to be able to separate what’s going on, compartmentalize it, start getting back to the game of baseball. I think he’s refocusing and trying to give you every effort to do the best he can out there.”