Tim Anderson admits he wasn’t initially on board when the White Sox decided to swap out Rick Renteria for Tony La Russa.
Anderson, of course, was tight with Renteria, the two forming a bond over years as player and manager. Anderson made his big league debut in 2016, when Renteria was the White Sox bench coach. He grew from a light hitter into a batting champion and an MVP candidate during Renteria’s four seasons as the South Side skipper.
Anderson’s been here for the duration of the White Sox rebuilding project. Now, for the first time, he’ll play a major league season without Renteria around.
“When it first happened, I was definitely not open,” Anderson said of the managerial change, talking with Our Chuck Garfien on the White Sox Talk Podcast. “I was locked in on what I already knew, because everything had already been built and everything was already there. I felt like the relationships were already where they needed to be. And I felt the bonds were so tight, that I wasn’t open for anything new.”
Time, though, has made a difference.
The White Sox made the managerial switch with La Russa’s track record in mind. He’s a three-time World Series winner as a manager and a Hall of Famer. Renteria might have taken the White Sox to the promised land to cap the rebuilding project he was long a part of. But La Russa brings a lot more certainty, proving time and again that he knows what it takes to get teams there.
Anderson, who has long stated his goal of becoming a champion, understands that part of the equation.
“Moving forward, I’m open. I get it. I understand it,” Anderson said. “Our ultimate goal is to win a championship, and I’m all aboard for that. … He’s been around baseball for a while, and he’s been successful for a while. So it goes back to: Why wouldn’t you want to learn from a guy who’s been successful for a while?
“We are trying to win a championship, and he’s going to be a part of it.”
There’s been a lot of focus — and there will surely continue to be — on how La Russa, who first started managing in the 1970s, and Anderson, who is arguably the face of a changing sport, will mesh in the White Sox dugout.
Anderson is famed for his bat flips and has been a part of a new generation of pro athletes speaking out on social issues. La Russa has recently, though prior to his hiring as the South Side skipper, spoken out in favor of the old-school rules Anderson is trying to do away with, as well as against athletes protesting racial injustice during the national anthem. He addressed both topics upon being hired. But the questions still remain.
Anderson’s stance on La Russa’s arrival has shifted, and he’s open to learning from one of the game’s most accomplished figures. But even he’s in wait-and-see mode when it comes to how the two will work together.
“We’re going to see what happens,” he said. “I don’t know Tony. Tony doesn’t know me. So I can’t go off what they say about this man, and he can’t go off what they say about me, because he doesn’t know me and I don’t know him. So really, the conversation, we’re just going to start at zero and just see where it goes.
“I’m not just that little pup that just came up and is scared to talk. I’m aware of everything. So now everything is so open to where I feel comfortable. If there’s anything that’s going on, I’m open to have those conversations with whoever it is because I get it. It’s just life.
“Nothing against you, nothing against me, it’s still all love, but we need to talk it out because the ultimate goal is to win a championship.”