Even when he came up from Class AAA to make his much anticipated major-
league debut in early June, there were those who doubted Tim Anderson.
More than a few baseball people viewed the 23-year-old rookie as a center fielder, not a shortstop.
Which was nothing new. Anderson has been hearing that for a few years now.
“It’s a good thing that they say that,’’ Anderson said Tuesday. “It keeps me motivated.’’
Anderson was at the beginning and the end of the Sox’ season-best seven-run sixth inning in their 8-1 victory against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night, bouncing a single up the middle for the first of seven hits in the frame and walking his second time up. In between, the Sox reeled off a barrage of hits against Trevor Bauer and Dan Otero to the delight of 15,588 fans (tickets sold) and 1,122 dogs.
It was an unusual burst of offensive support for left-hander Jose Quintana (12-10, 3.05 ERA), who held the Indians to one run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts over eight innings. Todd Frazier’s two-run single in the sixth produced his career-high 90th RBI a night after he hit his career-high 36th homer. Jose Abreu, chasing 100 RBI, drove in two runs to raise his total to 94. Carlos Sanchez also tripled in a pair of runs.
It was the second win in as many nights for the Sox (70-74), who are trying to play spoiler against the American League Central leaders, who fell to 83-61 with two games to play in this series.
Anderson, a first-round draft choice in 2013 who is breaking the Sox’ trend of questionable No. 1 non-pitchers taken in recent drafts, continued to play a clean brand of defense that is quieting those who wondered out loud if the middle of the infield was his best position. Anderson will forgive you if you’re in that crowd. He gets the skepticism.
“Because of my speed,’’ he said. “They said my speed would play a lot better in center field. But I feel like my speed plays well at shortstop, also.’’
Anderson’s tools are a given, but his instincts and feel for the position have also been obvious since he was called up from Charlotte in early June, manager Robin Ventura said. A former Gold Glove infielder, Ventura has seen enough to be on board.
“The questions about whether he’s going to be a shortstop or not, he has answered that,’’ Ventura said. “He makes every play. He makes the smart play as well, whether it’s getting around it on balls that are in the hole, he just finds a way to do the smart thing, and that becomes an important aspect of his game.’’
Ventura said Anderson’s range has expanded as he gains knowledge of hitters.
“It’s not necessarily the numbers knowledge, it’s the baseball knowledge,’’ Ventura said. “His timing is better. It’s that baseball clock he’s starting to understand.’’
Anderson’s offensive numbers are also encouraging. He hiked his average to .287 by hitting safely for the 30th time in his last 34 games.
It’s on the field, though, where he brings an edge.
“I enjoy being out there to show what I have and go out and just prove that I am a shortstop,’’ Anderson said.
Anderson’s persona has been one of quiet confidence since he came up. He’s not cocky or brash, just sure of his talent.
“Basically from the time I stepped in, I knew what I was capable of doing ability-wise,’’ he said, “and I know my work ethic. I knew all along I was a shortstop. That [the doubters] was something I was stressing on, just prove those people wrong, that I am a shortstop.’’