KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Shortstop Tim Anderson is close. Just how close is the question.
While the Sox carry on with the combination of 37-year-old Jimmy Rollins — a former MVP with an important veteran presence but past-his-prime range and a .231 average — and second-year infielder Tyler Saladino, Anderson is knocking at the door at AAA Charlotte with a .313 average after a slow start.
Anderson is the top position player prospect in the Sox farm system, but he has had less than two months of AAA experience. His plusses: Offense, speed, range, quickness, mental toughness. The minuses: a high strikeout rate and no major league experience. He has made seven errors over 45 games.
“He continues to improve and get better,’’ assistant general manager Buddy Bell said. “His feet are so quick sometimes he gets ahead of himself but has made vast improvements. He really gets the speed of the game fairly quick, at any level he’s been at. He’s really a smart, intelligent kid with good instincts. With any young kid there is going to be some growing pains. But he seems to figure it out pretty quickly.’’
The Sox have been in trade discussions with the San Diego Padres for former All-Star right-hander James Shields, and Anderson’s name has come up. But the Sox are more likely to bring up Anderson than trade him.
When he comes up hasn’t been a pressing topic of discussion.
“That’s not to say it won’t be talked about later on today, two weeks or a month or whatever,’’ Bell said. “Any time you have a player of his caliber you’re always talking about when is the right time. Can he handle it, how does he deal with adversity?
“Those are the keys to when you call somebody up. We have a pretty good combination of what Jimmy and Tyler do, but when you have a player like Timmy, when he’s ready, that’s when you make the decision. It doesn’t really depend on what’s in front of him. I don’t know when that time is.’’
Jackson back in 2-hole
Center fielder Austin Jackson batted second for the second straight day after leading off Friday when Adam Eaton was rested. With 12 hits in Jackson’s last 25 at-bats, it had a fortifying look to a spot in the lineup that had produced a .229/.290/.351 slash line with Rollins manning it regularly.
Jackson has been batting mostly eighth and ninth he said he sees the difference as hitting in RBI or on-base situations.
“The past couple of years I’ve been up and down in the order and it really doesn’t matter all that much,’’ Jackson said. “It’s just a different mindset.’’
In Sunday’s game against Edinson Volquez, drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth with a two-out single to center. He also made a running over the shoulder catch in deep center on Kendrys Morales’ fly ball and turned it into a double play, connecting with shortstop Tyler Saladino on a relay to double Eric Hosmer off first base to end the first inning.
Ventura has come under some scrutiny for how he has handled the struggling bullpen, including his choice not to use Nate Jones in the ninth inning after closer David Robertson was getting rocked. Jones warmed up in the seventh, and Ventura did not want to warm him up again.
“That’s part of keeping a guy healthy for the whole year,” Ventura said. “I’m not going to jeopardize yesterday when you need one out. To crank him back up and possibly hurt him for the rest of the year.”
Pitching coach Don Cooper also has a significant voice in how pitchers are used. But Ventura makes the final decisions, Ventura said.
“As far as me and Coop, you’re sitting there talking all the time,” Ventura said.
Up next: Sox at Mets
Sox pitchers have been taking batting practice in anticipation of the interleague series in New York beginning on Memorial Day Monday afternoon. Here are the probables.
Monday: Jose Quintana (5-4, 2.22) vs. Matt Harvey (3-7, 6.08), 12:10 CSN/ESPN, 890-AM
Tuesday: Mat Latos (6-1, 4.06) vs. Steven Matz (7-1, 2.36), 6:10, CSN, 890-AMWednesday: Miguel Gonzalez (0-1, 4.50) vs. Jacob deGrom (3-1, 3.07), Channel 9, 890-AM