Tim Anderson doesn’t want to complicate things.
Overanalyzing his promotion doesn’t seem like the best way for the White Sox top prospect to handle the big leap from Triple-A Charlotte to the majors, a move the club announced Friday.
Instead of thinking about what kind of production the struggling club could use from him, the White Sox prefer Anderson tries his best to play as he normally would in hopes the rest will come more easily. Anderson, who said he received a good luck text Friday from the man he replaced, Jimmy Rollins, made his major league debut against the Kansas City Royals.
“I’m trying not to think about (expectations) too much,” Anderson said. “Just go out and do my normal thing I’ve been doing, especially what it took me to get here, so just keep doing that.”
What helped him reach the majors in the three years since he was drafted was continued development of his bat and his glove. After a slow start at Charlotte, Anderson hit .361/.382/.517 with 13 extra-base hits and seven steals in his last 153 plate appearances and reduced his K-rate by nearly 10 percent. He struck out 29 times during that span after whiffing 29 times in his first 103 plate appearances.
Anderson’s play and Rollins’ struggles against right-handed pitching (he had a .502 OPS) forced the issue for the White Sox.
“I think Timmy’s really pushed it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think the way he’s played. I think offensively he can come up here and make an impact. I think at that point, you’re starting to look at the playing time Jimmy would have, which wouldn’t be that much because Timmy’s going to play.”
General manager Rick Hahn said playing time was the biggest determinant in designating Rollins for assignment. Anderson, 22, is here to be the team’s starting shortstop and continue to develop. The White Sox know there’s a possibility Anderson will struggle with major league pitching. But they want him to experience it all and adjust, similar to how he did at Charlotte earlier this season. They don’t want him to be viewed as the team’s “savior.”
“He is here to, hopefully, continue his successful run that he has been on over the last month or six weeks down there at Charlotte and get himself some experience here at the big-league level,” Hahn said. “We do feel that he has the ability to be a special player. But this is still a young player, still a player that is developing, and that development continues at the big-league level.”
Anderson said he didn’t make any major adjustments at the plate after a slow start at Charlotte. Teammate J.B. Shuck agrees, saying that Anderson continued to act like himself. Shuck thinks Anderson isn’t the type of player who will be “rattled” by his early struggles.
“Just adjusting to the level,” Anderson said. “It was my first time there, so just see how the pitchers were pitching me. As I got a lot more reps, I got a lot more comfortable.”
Now he’s excited.
Anderson said he didn’t focus on the big picture during his hot streak, suspecting it would happen on its own if he worried about playing. He shared an emotional moment when he called his parents from Scranton to inform them of his promotion. He doesn’t feel any added weight given the White Sox are struggling. He’s just ready to get going and was happy to see his name in the starting lineup.
“It’s just get in there and get going,” Anderson said. “I’m very excited about it. It’s a great moment for me and my family, so I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s a great feeling, knowing I’m playing here in this stadium. It’s one chance in a lifetime, so I’m very excited about it.”