BALTIMORE — The White Sox have done everything they can to alleviate some of the pressure that Tim Anderson may be feeling.
Dropped down to the seventh spot in the order for Saturday’s contest, the White Sox shortstop has essentially endured a little of this and a little of that littered throughout the early part of the season. Anderson not only has struggled at the plate, but he hasn’t looked sharp in the field, either. Though he scuffled at the start of the 2016 campaign at Triple-A Charlotte, Anderson considers his current struggles as some of the most difficult he has faced.
“This year has been one of the toughest times of my career,” Anderson said. “It’s hard to stay up when you’re struggling. I’ve been sticking with it. I’m learning a lot more than I have been throughout my career because every stop that I’ve made I’ve dominated and kept going. It’s kind of like I hit a wall real quick and I’m learning more and studying more and now it’s time to break the game down and learn a lot more about it.”
While his bat has begun to heat up, Anderson’s overall offensive numbers haven’t recovered from a slow start. He’s hitting .207/.235/.228 with five extra-base hits and six RBIs in 115 plate appearances despite hitting .271/.314/.375 in his last 51 PAs.
Anderson has also struggled defensively this season. After he produced 6 Defensive Runs Saved and a 6.3 Ultimate Zone Rating last season, Anderson is at minus-1 and minus-3.5, according to fangraphs.com. He also has committed seven errors and had two misplays in Friday’s opener.
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Manager Rick Renteria said part of the reason he dropped Anderson from the leadoff spot to seventh in the order is to “give him a minute to take a breath.”
“He has expressed (the struggles),” Renteria said. “But I think he knows ultimately it comes back to him continuing to trust the work he puts in and to trust himself. He’s a young player, and like most young players, every now and then, when you hit a little skid, you have a tendency to possibly lose your confidence. But I think we’re encouraging him to be himself, continue to work, not beat himself up as much, because everybody wants to perform. But don’t beat yourself up. Just go out there and keep playing the game.”
Anderson said he’s trying to work through his early struggles and focus on the process, the parts that are in his control. He also said he hopes to model himself after Todd Frazier when it comes to how he handles his struggles.
“You don’t know if he’s struggling or not,” Anderson said. “He plays the game the same way. That’s something I definitely try to control, just staying even keel. When you struggle for the first time or go through something it’s kind of hard to not think about it and play with it on your mind. That’s something I’m learning and as I grow and mature and become a better player and a better teammate and just keep working.”