DETROIT – Of all the physical traits baseball players need to master their sport, flexibility is the one needed most to conquer the “dog days” and final months of a season.
That’s what the White Sox strength and conditioning coordinator says, anyway, and flexibility is the thing shortstop Tim Anderson, the White Sox’ valued rookie, wants to address during his first major league offseason.
“I definitely want to get more flexible,’’ Anderson said. “Maybe try out some yoga. I can be more flexible than I am.’’
Allen Thomas would like to see it. Yoga has been part of every Sox player’s offseason program for years, the Sox’ fitness gura says, and while Anderson is more flexible now than he was a year ago, Thomas said, “this is the time of year, the dog days of summer, when those things show up. If you work on your flexibility, the payoff comes in September and October.’’
Anderson, who singled in five at-bats in the Sox’ 8-4 loss to the Tigers Tuesday night at Comerica Park, spent spring training in major league camp, opened the season at AAA Charlotte and made his debut on June 10. His two errors on one play Tuesday notwithstanding, watching him get his first taste of a big league season has been one of the more enjoyable things about a disappointing season for the Sox, who fell to 63-68 with their second straight loss opening a seven-game road trip.
“He’s like any rookie, he can stand to be more flexible, stronger, have more speed,’’ Thomas said. “To maximize your potential here [in the majors] you need to do it all.
“He needs to continue to work. He can get way stronger — way stronger. I don’t worry about size, I care about strength and mobility. All of the traits a baseball player needs – flexibility, mobility, strength, endurance and power.’’
Speed is one of Anderson’s more useful tools, and he has seven stolen bases in nine attempts. But he promises more.
“I’m going to steal a lot more bags,’’ he said. “I want to get as many as I can.’’
“It’s natural,’’ he said of his speed. “I never work on getting faster or anything like that. It’s just natural. I just run.’’
Anderson’s errors on the same play – it was that kind of night for the Sox – were made after J.D. Martinez’s home run against former Tiger Jacob Turner (7.71 ERA) in a two-run Tigers seventh put the Sox in an 8-4 hole.
This game, as the Sox’ first one of the series (a 4-3 loss on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s two-run homer in the eighth inning Monday), started well enough for the Sox, who led 3-0 behind a two-run homer by Todd Frazier (his 33rd) and Adam Eaton’s RBI groundout in a three-run third. Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo opened with four scoreless innings of one-hit ball before Ian Kinsler got him for a two-run homer in the fifth.
Ranaudo was pulled in favor of Matt Albers (6.19 ERA) after Martinez led off the sixth with a double and the Tigers proceeded to pile it on Albers with a tying single by Justin Upton and a go-ahead RBI single by JaCoby Jones in his major league debut.
Kinsler (four RBI) scored two more with a single against Turner.
“Anthony had a good run going there but they got to him that third time through,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “We tried to go to the bullpen and get some ground balls, but [the Tigers] have a way of opening things up.’’
The Sox have not. They loaded the bases in the fourth and didn’t score, and after Melky Cabrera – who left in the seventh inning with dehydration, Ventura said – scored a run with a groundout, Jose Abreu and Frazier struck out.
“We haven’t been able to get that big hit all year,’’ said Eaton, on base four times with a single, double and two walks.
The Sox are now 21-43 at Comerica Park since the start of the 2010 season.