White Sox’ Tim Anderson aims to step up running game

DETROIT — White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson has bigger fish to fry, starting with cleaning up his defense and polishing his offensive abilities — both of which are happening in the later stages of the season after a rough start. But he also wants to make his running game something to be reckoned with.

“It’s definitely part of my game, but I kind of let it get away from me,” Anderson said Friday. “If you go back to my minor-league year in Double-A [Birmingham], I stole 30-something or 40 [bases], so I definitely want to get back on it and take it back up.”

Anderson was being modest about the numbers. He actually stole 49 bases in 125 games at Birmingham in 2015.

In his first major-league season last year, he stole 10 in 12 attempts. He had 11 in 12 through Thursday, so when he goes, he’s usually good.

Tim Anderson steals second base while shortstop Jean Segura of the Mariners tries to put on a tag at Safeco Field on May 18, 2017. (Getty Images)

“Kind of got caught up in trying to impress when I got to the big leagues — kind of lost focus with it and being not sure or kind of scared in certain spots, because I didn’t want to get thrown out,” he said. “Now it’s just, ‘So what if I get thrown out. Just go.’ ”

Third-base coach Nick Capra said Anderson, 24, “has a chance to be real good base stealer. The more comfortable he gets, the more he learns pitchers and catchers, he’s going to be good.

“It’s going to be a big part of his game, but he has so many other things going on. Obviously, his hitting and his defense kind of outweigh his baserunning at this time. He’s feeling his way through a lot of this stuff, offensively, defensively and on the bases.”

Anderson leads the majors in errors with 26 but has committed four in his last 50 games, compared to 22 in his first 81. He extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single against Anibal Sanchez in the second inning of the Sox’ 3-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Friday night. He was batting .315 in his last 38 games, hiking his average to .258.

“We’re seeing more of what we’ve expected of him,” Capra said. “He’s playing with more confidence. He’s letting things that have bothered him go. We’re seeing a lot better baseball player on both sides of the ball.”

And look for him to run a bit more in the last two-plus weeks of the season and into next year. He made a key, aggressive steal of third base on the Royals and catcher Sal Perez in the ninth inning of the Sox’ 5-3 win Thursday. Since the Sox had no outs at the time, his attempt had to be successful or be deemed a bad risk, manager Rick Renteria said.

“We’re giving him more opportunities,” Capra said. “We’ll  push him now more than we did earlier.”

Anderson’s personal battle after the loss of a close friend in May has been well-documented. Time heals all wounds, and he appears to be getting back to his normal self.

“There are ebbs and flows, ups and downs, during the course of the season,” Renteria said, “and a lot of things that were going on early in the year are kind of behind him, allowing him to free himself a little more emotionally and mentally. He’s feeling like he’s in a good place, playing really good on both sides of the baseball right now.”

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

 

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