GLENDALE, Ariz. — The stolen base is on a slow, steady decline in Major League Baseball, but there are some White Sox players in camp who want to do their share to reverse the trend.
Jose Abreu is one of them. His declaration that he wants to steal more bases in his fifth season caught everyone by surprise. He is a slugging first baseman who has six career steals.
But Tim Anderson’s desire to step it up makes a little more sense. The 24-year-old shortstop was 9-for-9 in stolen bases in September last season.
RELATED STORIES White Sox pitching coach hasn’t lost zeal for job White Sox outslugged by Dodgers in Cactus League opener
So what’s a good number this season?
“I’ll say over 25. In that 20s range is good,” Anderson said before taking the field for the Sox’ Cactus League opener Friday. “I’ll take more, though.”
Anderson will take more homers, too. Like the three-run shot he lifted to left field against Dodgers right-hander C.C. Lee in the third inning. Anderson belted 17 in his first full season in 2017. He also had 15 steals, the only Sox player in double digits.
Anderson was 49-for-62 at Class AA Birmingham in 2015. After stealing 11 times in 55 games at Class AAA Charlotte in 2015, Anderson was 10-for-12 stealing in 99 games for the Sox after getting called up in 2016. He was 15-for-16 in 2017, capped by that explosive September.
“I was kind of running around with my head on fire,’’ Anderson said. “I was just back to being myself, using my legs more. And it felt good.
“It’s definitely something I want to show more of,’’ Anderson said. “It’s there.’’
Despite 32 strikeouts and only one walk, September was Anderson’s best month by far. He had a slash line of .327/.345/.465, hit three homers, drove in 11 runs and scored 20.
The stolen bases were icing on the cake.
“I kind of did it on my own,’’ Anderson said. “It’s about understanding the situation and knowing when to do it. It’s a little bit of both, read and speed. I feel like I have natural instincts, and it just kind of happens.”
Give those 26 men a contract
The Sox agreed to terms with 26 players, bringing everyone on the 40-man roster under contract for 2018.
Pitchers: Aaron Bummer, Ian Clarkin, Jace Fry, Carson Fulmer, Lucas Giolito, Gregory Infante, Reynaldo López, Juan Minaya, José Ruiz and Thyago Vieira; catchers Omar Narváez and Kevan Smith; infielders Matt Davidson, Casey Gillaspie, Yoán Moncada, José Rondón and Tyler Saladino and outfielders Micker Adolfo, Luis Basabe, Ryan Cordell, Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, Willy García, Eloy Jiménez, Daniel Palka and Charlie Tilson.
The highest contract in the bunch is Davidson’s at $570,000. The major-league minimum is $545,000.
Follow me on Twitter