BALTIMORE — Third baseman Todd Frazier stands alongside shortstop Tim Anderson on the field and, as a veteran presence and solid defender on that side of the diamond, keeps an eye on the young White Sox shortstop.
Encouraging, prodding and talking are some of the things Frazier does best. They’re things Anderson can use right about now.
“This year has been one of the toughest times of my career because I’ve been struggling a little bit,” Anderson said Saturday.
A slice of Anderson’s 2017 defensive game was on display in the Baltimore Orioles’ 6-5 victory over the Sox at Camden Yards. His backhand attempt on Mark Trumbo’s infield single in the O’s three-run first deflected off his glove, a play he’ll tell you he should have made for a force out. In the fifth, he ranged from second base to his left and laid out to stop Seth Smith’s one-hopper for the third out.
It was one of his best plays this season. And he has made a bunch of good ones. He also has booted some not-so-difficult plays.
“I know he’s saying, ‘Keep hitting the ball back at me,’ ” Frazier said. “With him, I’m not worried one bit because he makes the hard plays look easy and the easy plays look hard.”
While Anderson’s seven errors in 28 games are beginning to cause some concern as he ventures into his second year, Frazier, 31, said he hasn’t seen the need to counsel the 23-year-old. And he said he’s not protecting him by saying only one of the errors — a soft liner in Detroit — was on a routine play.
“If you’re on the field, you’d understand more the ball is moving, the ball is hit hard,” Frazier said.
If Anderson’s defense isn’t worrisome, perhaps the .209 average and .237 on-base percentage is.
“We’re encouraging him to be himself, continue to work, not beat himself up as much,” manager Rick Renteria said.
The Sox were so sure of Anderson’s future that they signed him to a $25 million extension during spring training. Their belief in him was based on talent and makeup.
“Mistakes happen,” he said before the game. “I’ve got to continue to believe in the process and work I’ve put in. There’s a lot that comes with it, but I’m willing to stick with it and learn from it.”
Like Anderson, Rule 5 right-hander Dylan Covey (0-3, 8.28 ERA) also is learning on the job. He got hit hard again, this time for six runs and 10 hits in four innings and balking in a run to raise his ERA to 10.07 in his last four starts.
The O’s built leads of 4-0 and 6-2 as Manny Machado and Trey Mancini homered against Covey, who has allowed seven long balls and appears to be in jeopardy of losing his place in the rotation.
“Those are conversations we’ll continue to have,” Renteria said. “It wouldn’t be prudent for me in this moment to make a decision like that. We have to sit down and see where we’re at.”
“I just need to execute pitches better,” said Covey, who has pitched in only six games above Class A in the minors. “Hanging breaking balls with two strikes, I need to get those in the dirt.”
Cody Asche homered against O’s starter Dylan Bundy (5-1), and Jose Abreu lined a bullet off the left-field foul pole for a two-run homer against Mychal Givens in the eighth, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 6-5. The exit velocity on Abreu’s low liner was 112 mph, according to MLB Statcast.
Abreu (2-for-4) has 24 hits, including five homers, in his last 15 games and has raised his average to .294.
Right-hander Darren O’Day pitched a perfect ninth for the -Orioles (19-10) who dropped the Sox to 15-14.
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Anthony Swarzak (0.00 ERA) keeps hot start in perspective