White Sox

Risky steal attempt another sign Tim Anderson's got his swag back

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AP

Risky steal attempt another sign Tim Anderson's got his swag back

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tim Anderson’s confidence increasingly continues to return.

The White Sox shortstop chose the right moment to take a big risk when he stole third base in the ninth inning on Wednesday afternoon.

It’s the kind of call that either earns a player kudos if it works or an earful from the manager if it fails. Turns out Anderson’s risky decision to steal third base with All-Star catcher Salvador Perez behind the plate helped the White Sox win their first road series since June. 

Only minutes after a similar play backfired for the Kansas City Royals, Anderson’s steal allowed him to easily score on a go-ahead sacrifice fly by Jose Abreu. The White Sox tacked on another run to topple the Kansas City Royals 5-3 at Kauffman Stadium. 

“He wanted to get there for (Abreu),” manager Rick Renteria said. “A steal of third has to be 100 percent or otherwise it’s fruitless. He had a good feel for it. He wanted to get over there and he did.”

Anderson’s 11th steal in 12 tries was the latest big moment in a resurgent second half. The second-year player slumped through July as he struggled to cope with the May death of close friend Branden Moss. Moss was shot and killed attempting to aide an assault victim outside of a bar near the University of Alabama campus on May 7.

But Anderson has looked much more like himself since he began to see a counselor in late July. Once again, the 2013 first-round draft pick is playing free of restriction and with the kind of confidence he displayed often throughout a rookie campaign in which he produced 2.5 f-Wins Above Replacement.

How else to explain running on Perez — who has thrown out 159 of 470 runners in his career (33.8 percent) — with one of the hottest hitters in baseball on deck? 

If Anderson is thrown out, questions about his thought process with Abreu coming to bat with a man in scoring position are asked. It’s the same type of questions asked on sports talk radio about Kansas City's Alcides Escobar after he made the final out of the eighth inning with the score tied.

But Anderson trusted the instincts that made him a top-50 prospect before the 2016 season and his read of pitcher Scott Alexander’s move. With Yoan Moncada at bat and a 3-2 count, Anderson, who went 2-for-5, his seventh multi-hit game in the last 10, took off running and beat Perez’s throw.

“Really just going off the pitcher,” Anderson said. “He was giving me slow deliveries and I feel like with my speed I was able to get there.”

“I wanted to take it in such a key moment.”

Three pitches later, Abreu drove a fly ball to deep center to bring in Anderson and give the White Sox a 4-3 lead. 

Anderson hasn’t attempted to steal bases at similar rate to what he did in the minors when he was 100 of 128, including in Arizona Fall League play. But he’s been more effective in the majors, swiping 21 of 24 tries (87.5 percent). And the confident Anderson promises this only the beginning as he gets more comfortable with pitchers around the league and their moves.

“It’s just a matter of time before the stolen bases keep coming,” Anderson said. “I was able to get a pretty good jump on it. 

“It’s definitely the more attempts I can get and more comfortable I can get that I feel like I can run more.”

A.J. Reed, who played 14 games with the White Sox in 2019, retired

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USA TODAY

A.J. Reed, who played 14 games with the White Sox in 2019, retired

A.J. Reed, the one-time slugging prospect who made his way to the White Sox last season, retired earlier this month.

The news went unnoticed by many, though there it is on the International League's transactions page: Reed, a second-round draft pick in 2014, retired on March 4. He's 26 years old.

The White Sox picked Reed up on a waiver claim midway through last season, taking a flier on a guy who had no trouble racking up home runs in the minor leagues. He hit 34 of them playing at two levels of the Houston Astros organization in 2015, 34 more at Triple-A in 2017 and another 28 at Triple-A in 2018.

But Reed could never make it happen at the major league level, and that includes in the 49 plate appearances he got in just 14 games with the White Sox in 2019. He picked up only six hits, including one home run, and struck out a whopping 21 times.

Reed did manage a highlight in a White Sox uniform. He moved over from first base and pitched in relief during the ninth inning of an 11-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins, retiring all three batters he faced.

He played his final game with the White Sox on Aug. 1 and spent the remainder of the season in Triple-A Charlotte.

In the midst of another rebuilding season, the White Sox were in position to take that sort of a low-risk gamble on Reed and see if they could help him discover something he couldn't at the big league level in Houston. Fans weren't happy watching him struggle at the plate, but that's life in the middle of a rebuild.

Thanks to breakout seasons from so many of their young core players and a busy offseason of big-name veteran additions, the White Sox don't figure to be in such a position again for the foreseeable future.

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Remember That Guy: White Sox reliever Cliff Politte

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Remember That Guy: White Sox reliever Cliff Politte

2005 was quite a year for late-round draft picks out of junior colleges in Missouri, especially Jefferson College.

That year, Cliff Politte had a career year and ended up with a new ring. Remember that guy?

Politte was born Feb. 27, 1974 in St. Louis. His father, Cliff, pitched in the Cardinals organization from 1959-65. The younger Politte captained the baseball and soccer teams at Vianney High School in St. Louis. In soccer, Politte was a midfielder and was part of two state titles.

Originally, Politte signed to play baseball for Memphis State, but the team wouldn’t agree to his wish to play outfield as well as pitch, so he ended up at Jefferson College.

Drafted by Cardinals in 54th round of 1995 MLB draft, Politte’s spot in the Jefferson rotation was filled by Mark Buehrle, his future White Sox teammate. Politte would pitch in the same game as Buehrle for the White Sox 38 times, including twice in the 2005 World Series.

The 54th round pick ended up the 1997 Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Year, going 15-2 with a 2.22 ERA for Prince William (High-A, Carolina League ) and Arkansas (AA). He made the Opening Day roster in 1998.

It was quite a story for Politte to make his first MLB start at Busch Stadium for his hometown Cardinals. He got a no-decision but had a strong effort, going five innings, allowing two hits and a run against the Dodgers. The first hit he allowed was to his future teammate, Paul Konerko; his first strikeout was of former Rookie of the Year Todd Hollandsworth.

Politte earned his first career win in his next start, a 12-11 slugfest at Coors Field. At the plate, he connected for his first career hit on April 23 – off another future teammate, Dustin Hermanson. In eight games in 1998 – all starts - he finished 2-3 with a 6.32 ERA in his first taste of major league action.

The homecoming didn’t last all too long. Politte was traded with Jeff Brantley and Ron Gant to the Phillies for Ricky Botallico and Garrett Stephenson on Nov. 19, 1998. Politte shuttled back and forth between the Phillies and the minors from 1999 through 2001, along the way making what would be his final eight career starts (all in 2000).

In 2002, after making 13 appearances with the Phillies, Politte was sent north of the border to Toronto, in exchange for lefty Dan Plesac. With the Blue Jays, Politte collected his first career major league save July 24 at Baltimore, and finished 2002 with a 3.67 ERA in 68 combined appearances with Philly and Toronto.

Politte had a run as Blue Jays closer in May 2003 where he racked up nine saves. He struggled with inconsistency, finishing the year with a 5.66 ERA to go along with 12 saves, and became a free agent at season's end. He inked a deal with the White Sox on Jan. 7, 2004 – a one-year deal with 2005 club option.

Politte’s first season with the White Sox went well enough even though it ended early. A 4.38 ERA was a little better than league average – it was a high run-scoring environment at a hitter’s park. He got into 54 games and collected 19 holds, but an emergency appendectomy on Sept. 1 cut his season short. 

Politte was a key cog for the 2005 White Sox, quickly settling into his role as setup man. Heading into the All-Star break, he had a microscopic 1.02 ERA, second in the majors among all pitchers with 30 or more innings. Only the great Mariano Rivera (1.01) was better. But not even Mo could match his 0.736 WHIP at the time. Politte strung together 20 straight scoreless outings from May 29 to July 17.

He finished the regular season with a sterling 2.00 ERA with 23 holds. He was one of only a few major leaguers to hold both lefties (.182) and righties (.181) under a .200 average. Politte even collected an RBI hit on June 8 at Colorado – something no White Sox reliever had done since Terry Forster in 1972.

Politte made four postseason appearances, tossing a scoreless frame in Game 1 of the ALDS, then collecting a hold in Games 2, 3 and 4 of the World Series. In total, he allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings. He finished 2004 with an appendectomy. He finished 2005 with a World Series ring.

Politte’s luck ran out in 2006. Regression hit hard, as he posted an 8.70 ERA in 30 appearances before the Sox released him on July 20. He signed on with the Indians for 2007 and the Cardinals for 2008 but never made it back to the bigs.

Vianney High School retired Politte’s No. 10 in 2008, and in 2010 both Mark Buehrle and Politte were inducted into the Jefferson College Athletic Hall of Fame. Not bad for guys selected in the 38th and 54th rounds, respectively.

Nowadays, Politte is a sales manager and estimator for Pipe and Ducts Systems in St. Louis.