GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jimmy Rollins has been a mentor to prospect Tim Anderson since he joined White Sox camp last week just as the team hoped.
But so far, the focus has been on a different due date than when Anderson is expected to arrive in the majors. On Sunday, the team’s top prospect is scheduled to travel to Georgia for the birth of his daughter. The team has excused Anderson for several days and doctors are expected to induce labor on March 7.
So while their future discussions may include pitch selection and positioning at the bag, for now Anderson and Rollins have talked about family obligations and being a father.
“Just life, really,” Anderson said. “Off the field stuff — what to expect when you get to the big leagues and family issues, whatever. We talk about a lot.
“I’m kind of talking about when I have a girl. He’s just saying ‘Enjoy it.’”
[MORE WHITE SOX: Jimmy Rollins likes opportunity to 'fight for a position' with White Sox]
Before Rollins arrived, Anderson thought he might be star struck around the veteran shortstop. Anderson said he loved to watch Rollins play throughout his career and expected he might be in awe. But Anderson wasted no time in approaching Rollins and he hasn’t shied away from asking questions, either.
Rollins — who has two daughters of his own — said topics have varied but he likes how Anderson looks at the big picture.
“He’s a real good kid,” Rollins said. “He’s just looking for people to make sure that he’s in the right direction and that’s a good thing. You’ve got kids that are out there looking to get in trouble and he’s like, ‘No.’
“Good way to go about it.”
The White Sox thought they would get much more than just a shortstop when they signed Rollins to a minor-league deal earlier this month. Rollins’ teammates on the Los Angeles Dodgers praised him for his leadership, and top prospect Corey Seager said the ex-National League MVP’s mentorship has been a huge influence.
The White Sox have been pleased to see how Rollins has interacted with both Anderson and Tyler Saladino. Not only is Rollins competing to take over as the starting shortstop, he doubles as a sounding board for the team’s future pieces.
[MORE WHITE SOX: Young White Sox shortstops eager to work with Jimmy Rollins]
“This is exactly what you would expect from him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s taking care of his own business and also has the ability to put his arm around somebody and take somebody under his wing. Timmy I’m sure watched him grow up and idolized him. To have somebody as classy as Jimmy, we’re fortunate to have that, especially for Tim.”
It hasn’t been strictly off the field topics for Rollins and Anderson.
Rollins has watched Anderson work and noted — “he has some hands — he’s quick.” He also likes how Anderson listens and thinks that should help him adapt.
One area they may discuss later is Anderson using criticism as a motivator. Anderson admits he knows some observers wonder whether he’ll stick at shortstop and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He occasionally Tweets about those reviews and how he uses them as motivation.
“That’s just the word out there that I can’t play so I just want to everybody I can,” Anderson said. “That’s just in my mind, everybody’s saying I can’t play that position and it really keeps me going and makes me work harder to prove I can stay there.”
Rollins thinks criticism can be a good motivator if properly used. Fellow Bay Area native Tom Brady is a perfect example as he uses it to find a way to stay inspired, Rollins said. But he wants to make sure Anderson doesn’t allow criticism to eat away at him.
“You don’t need to read that stuff to know who you are, to know if you had a good game or a bad game, to know where you need to work on, to know what you do well,” Rollins said. “You know that yourself. You can read 100 articles and 90 of them are excellent. But you’ll spending the rest of your time worrying about the 10 and why these 10 articles are written as such about me. Some people, it’s motivating and other people it can destroy. If he’s able to do that and balance it, then that’s good. It’s something I’ll definitely talk to him about.”
They have only worked together for a week and already Anderson said he’s learned a lot from Rollins. Not only have they discussed fatherhood, other familial obligations have come up. Anderson said he feels fortunate to have Rollins around.
“No is a powerful word,” Anderson of Rollins’ best advice. “On the family side, once you do reach the big league level, you’re going to have new friends and family members that come out of the woodwork that you’ve never met before. You know you’ve got to stay true to yourself. Take care of yourself first and family that has been there from the beginning.
“He looks out for me a lot, takes care of me. I really appreciate it and look up to him. I thank him a lot for that.”