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TA out for fourth straight game with eyes on October

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
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There's nothing mysterious about what's going on with Tim Anderson.

Anderson, out a fourth consecutive game Tuesday night, is dealing with sore legs. Specifically, the Chicago White Sox star shortstop reported Tuesday, he's beset by tightness in his hamstrings. And because his team is trying to win the World Series, sitting out a handful of consecutive games in August is preferable to him being at less than 100 percent when the season is on the line in October.

That's the long and short of it, a true manifestation of the oft-used day-to-day status.

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"I'm human, I'm no machine," Anderson said. "I guess it's natural soreness, a little tight, but I've been doing everything that I need to do over the past couple days to get back to 100 percent. I've been in the training room taking care of my body, and I got on the field (Monday), took groundballs. I'm going to go through the same thing (Tuesday).

"It's a long season. You want to be 100 percent, and you want to go out there and give everything you've got. It's one of those just natural moments that things started tightening up on me. ... I've been feeling great for the last two days, so hopefully everything continues to keep making progress and my body keeps getting better."

The timing, of course, hasn't been wonderful, and the results of the last three games without him have made it even less so. Anderson's bout of hamstring trouble has fallen right in the middle of a notable stretch of games against some of the American League's other top teams. After Anderson almost single-handedly carried the White Sox to a thrilling win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night, the offense has shut down in his absence, mustering a combined five runs in three days in three consecutive losses to the Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.

 

Given that plenty were looking at this stretch of series against the New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Rays and Blue Jays as a measuring stick for a White Sox team that's lost significantly more of the games they've played against above-.500 teams than they've won, it's been frustrating for fans to watch an Anderson-less group struggle the last three days.

But much like the White Sox feel that their fortunes against top teams won't matter come October, Anderson's current absence doesn't matter nearly as much as his future presence does.

"Just being smart. We all know what the ultimate goal is, all our eyes on October," Anderson said. "It's tough, knowing the team's needing me out there. I want to be out there. The only way I'm not out there is if something is going on. ... I can't wait to be back in the lineup, for sure."

"We've missed him for three, now four days. We don't want to miss him for longer than that," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. "And that might have been what happened if he pushed it."

Obviously, as anyone who's watched the last three games can tell you, the offense is a different animal with Anderson at the top of the lineup. He's been called an "igniter" by La Russa, and just about everyone is ready to jump up and down describing the kind of energy he brings, the tone he sets for a team that's made winning each day their singular focus throughout this first-place season.

But Anderson, too, has been among the biggest spokesmen for the team's ultimate mission: winning the World Series. With that comes a need for full strength, for the team to be peaking heading into the playoffs. Anderson's availability is obviously critical to a lengthy October run; it's getting clearer and clearer that they simply can't do it without him.

"Tim was one of the guys early on made the commitment to how far we could go," La Russa said. "When your best players are the most committed, then everybody gets a boost. He's infectious."

So just like the White Sox had no intention of rushing Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert back for a better chance at a few extra midsummer wins, just like they will take their time in making sure Yasmani Grandal is perfectly ready to return from his rehab assignment, they won't throw a less-than-100-percent Anderson out on the turf in Toronto.

 

All that said, Anderson's stretch of missed games is expected to come to an end soon. He's not on the injured list, of course, and both shortstop and manager pointed to Wednesday as the day Anderson should be back atop the White Sox lineup.

"We've lost the last couple games but it's going to get better, it's going to get better," Anderson said. "We've just got to keep pushing and for me, continue to keep working to get healthy to get back on the field.

"We'll be back to where we need to be, no worries."

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