White Sox

Lillibridge eager for starting role

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Lillibridge eager for starting role

As it stands, Brent Lillibridge isn't in line for a full-time starting role in 2012. The only way that'll happen is if someone gets hurt, or someone has significant struggles coming out of the gate.

Fortunately for Lillibridge, if that someone plays any position but pitcher or catcher, he's ready to jump in. After all, there's a reason why he has to carry around more mitts than anyone during spring training.

"I'll bring the three gloves around -- I don't think I'll need the first base one too much, hopefully Paulie will be healthy this year -- but I just gotta keep working at it," Lillibridge said. "It's a lot more work carrying a bunch of gloves around, but I have to be ready for anything."

Such is the life a super-utilityman. Lillibridge mostly served as a reserve outfielder last season, making a pair of spectacular plays in New York and robbing a would-be go-ahead homer from Coco Crisp during the summer. He's a natural middle infielder, though he didn't play shortstop at all and only saw 19 innings at second base in 2011. In fact, the infield position Lillibridge saw the most time at was first base, as he logged 129 innings there after Paul Konerko was hit in the knee by an Andrew Miller fastball in late July.

"I would assume, given the numbers, I'd get a lot more infield work now that Omar Vizquel's not with us," Lillibridge said. "It's kind of hard to back up him when he's one of the best infielders of all time."

With more opportunities for playing time opening up, Lillibridge should have a greater opportunity to repeat his 2011 season. In 216 trips to the plate, Lillibridge smacked 13 home runs -- a career high for any professional level. While he still struck quite a bit, his .340 on-base percentage mitigated those concerns. And 18 of his 48 hits went for extra-bases.

A long offseason -- made even longer by Lillibridge suffering a broken hand when he was hit by a pitch Sept. 8 -- has its psychological pitfalls, though, following a breakout performance.

"More of it's the mental side of it, understanding the approach and stuff," said Lillibridge. "You don't try to do exactly the same thing, because when you don't change a thing, you end up doing stupid stuff."

If Lillibridge can sustain his success of 2011, he very well may play himself into a starting role, either in center field or at second base if Alex Rios or Gordon Beckham start slowly.

Even if those players don't falter, though, Lillibridge wants to make it a difficult decision for Robin Ventura to leave him on the bench.

"You always want to move up. I want a chance to start and some point. The team, it is what it is, we have a great team," Lillibridge said. "But I'm going to make it hard. I'm not going to settle for a role just being a bench guy, I'm hoping to get an opportunity.

"I'm always looking for more at-bats, more innings -- I'm not greedy, my goal is to get better and get a chance to be a starter at some point in my career."

Tim Anderson's eventful day at the yard ends with shot at Joe West: 'Everybody knows he's terrible'

Tim Anderson's eventful day at the yard ends with shot at Joe West: 'Everybody knows he's terrible'

Talk about an eventful night at the ol' ballpark for Tim Anderson.

It looked like it was going to be a day worth celebrating for Anderson, whose developmental progress reached a milestone during the third inning of Saturday's Crosstown matchup with the Cubs. He hit his 20th home run of the season, becoming the first White Sox shortstop ever to have a season with at least 20 homers and at least 20 stolen bases.

A heck of a feat, one that should stand out when White Sox fans and observers spend the offseason discussing whether or not Anderson truly is this franchise's shortstop of the future.

But the ump show came and overshadowed all that.

The Cubs were in the process of extending their lead in the ninth inning, putting things out of reach, when the White Sox attempted a double play on an Anthony Rizzo groundball. Anderson got the force out at second base and attempted the turn in the presence of a sliding Javy Baez. His throw went nowhere near first base, going down as an error that allowed another run to score.

After the play was over, Rick Renteria challenged, spurring a review to see if Baez violated the rules by reaching his arm out in an attempt to impede Anderson from making the play. The review determined Baez did not do that. Anderson disagreed, and a conversation with famed umpire Joe West followed.

"I asked him a question, and he kind of got pissed at me," Anderson said of his interaction with West. "I asked him if he saw him reach for my leg in the replay. He asked me if I was going to argue that, and I said, ‘No, I was just asking a question.’ And after that I didn’t say anything else. He started barking at me. Kept staring me down. I gave him, 'Why you keep looking at me?' Did that twice and threw me out."

Anderson was ejected, and he was visibly livid on the field, screaming at West in the immediate aftermath of the ejection. Renteria came out after Anderson started making his way toward the dugout, still yelling, and was ejected, as well.

Now, White Sox fans are no stranger to West, who famously — or infamously, if you're a White Sox supporter — called a couple of balks on Mark Buehrle and ejected both Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen in a 2010 game against the Cleveland Indians, sending announcer Hawk Harrelson into an on-air rant against West: "He's becoming a joke to the umpiring profession."

But the White Sox are far from the only team to have their run-ins with West. Anderson was obviously familiar with West's reputation, taking a shot after the game.

"I don’t have much to say about him. Everybody knows he’s terrible," Anderson said. "But I didn’t say much and he threw me out. It’s OK."

Additionally, Anderson was adamant that Baez did indeed move his hand in violation of the sliding rules at second base — and added the review officials in New York to his criticism list.

"Yeah, definitely. You could see it in the replay," Anderson said. "That’s just one of the many that they missed in New York, I guess."

And so an eventful night for Anderson.

His criticisms of the officials will undoubtedly overshadow his joining the 20-homer club and standing alone in the White Sox 20-20 club. But those are just further examples on Anderson's growth as a player this season.

Yes, the error he made on that play was his 19th of the season, putting him among the league leaders in that category after he led baseball with 28 fielding errors last season. But he now has career highs in home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, doubles and walks. And his fielding has been noticeably improved over the last month or so, a result of the work he's put in with Joe McEwing.

This weekend, Anderson generated headlines with an argument with an umpire. This winter, he'll be generating discussion by what he's done on the field. And the latter has been impressive.

"I’ve been able to take my game to another level," he said. "I just have to continue to grow and just keep learning and keep working hard."

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk Harrelson interview before his final White Sox broadcast

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk Harrelson interview before his final White Sox broadcast

Hawk Harrelson sat down with Chuck Garfien to talk about his emotions prior to calling his final White Sox game.

Why has he been such an unspoken announcer in his career?  Does he have anything prepared for his final inning?

How does he want to be remembered?  That and more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: