It was one of the most frequently asked questions of the offseason:
How would Tony La Russa and Tim Anderson mesh?
The White Sox made a surprising move in bringing the 76-year-old La Russa out of retirement for a second go-round as the South Side skipper. His last came nearly four decades ago. His last big league managing job one decade ago.
All this while the face of their franchise was launching as many conversations about the future of baseball as he was bats. He's on a crusade to upend the sport he calls "boring."
Old school and new school. The curiosity was how they'd be able to work together.
And indeed, both men did little to bring an end to those questions during the offseason. La Russa didn't exactly stamp out any concerns about his toleration of on-field swagger when he said he'd be cool with Anderson's bat flips as long as they were "sincere." Meanwhile, Anderson told Our Chuck Garfien on a recent White Sox Talk Podcast that he wasn't on board with the La Russa hire at first.
But now the two are paired up at White Sox camp in Glendale, Arizona. And Anderson, who admitted that he's opened up to the idea of La Russa's return since that initial hesitation, has unleashed his stamp of approval.
"His drive to win, his motivation to win is definitely what we need at this point. And just to be the best," Anderson said during his first media session of the spring Monday. "Just to go out and continue to work and make everything count.
"I think he’s pretty solid. So far, I've been liking the chemistry, everything has been great. The things he has been preaching have been good. I think we got the right man. I hope so."
Anderson has been nowhere close to being publicly outspoken against La Russa's hiring, but he's admitted to not knowing how the two would work together, having never met the man.
It seems that after clearing that hurdle of unknown, though, Anderson is feeling far more comfortable with his new manager.
"We definitely sat down and had a 1-on-1. I got to know him more as a person, more so even than the manager part," Anderson said. "But yeah, just to see what page he’s on is definitely awesome. Just have conversations with him, very motivating.
"The drive to want to win, he has that. I’m behind him 110 percent. That’s the ultimate goal is to win and to win a World Series here. I’m behind him.
"He wants to hear what I have to say. I came into camp early, and we had our 1-on-1. Just to sit down and be able to talk to him about things we want to accomplish and things we want to do, which is win the World Series, it’s been nothing but great."
Anderson has discussed that aspect throughout the offseason, not knowing La Russa's personality but knowing his resume and the descriptions he heard from others, the descriptions of a man driven to return to the dugout so he could chase another championship. Anderson's been talking about winning it all for years now as the White Sox rebuild has moved toward the stage where World Series expectations were realistic for this group.
That's where this team is now, and La Russa's championship knowhow is looked at as a big-time positive when it comes to reaching that goal.
But make no mistake, this is not Anderson signing up to make big changes to the personality that has won over so many fans on the South Side and across the baseball-watching world. The idea that La Russa might have tried to squelch that was probably somewhat overblown at first. After all, he's the guy who managed Rickey Henderson with the Oakland Athletics.
Instead, Anderson said that La Russa wants to hear from him. The shortstop is one of the team's leaders and its biggest source of energy on and off the field.
Don't expect Anderson to go changing to try to please anybody. That includes his new manager.
"I can talk to him. I can tell him anything I want to," Anderson said, before unleashing some of that trademark personality in joking form.
"I ain’t afraid of him. Tell him that."