GLENDALE, Ariz. — White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson will be honest with you. His favorite spot in the batting order is second, and there’s no place he’d rather be than right behind middle-infield partner Yoan Moncada.
“I love batting second,’’ he said.
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But Anderson is a roll-with-the-flow sort, too, and not so self-absorbed to be bothered by manager Rick Renteria’s recent decision to bat him in the bottom third of the Sox’ lineup.
“That’s fine; however they want to use me, I’m open,’’ Anderson said. “They want to bat me last, fifth, fourth, third, wherever, I’m here. I’m blessed to be in a major-league lineup, so I’m up for whatever.’’
Renteria is plugging in Moncada in the leadoff spot, followed by Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu, three of his top on-base-percentage guys. Anderson rallied late last season to finish with a .257/.276/.402 slash line, but that middle on-base figure is part of what prompted Renteria to put Anderson — who hit 17 home runs and drove in 56 runs — where he can be an RBI guy.
Anderson drew only 13 walks in 146 games last season. He also drew 13 his rookie year in 2016 in 99 games (while hitting .283).
“Timmy puts the bat on the ball a lot, and when he does, it’s a positive outcome,’’ said Renteria, who batted Anderson first or second 59 times last season. “Not putting him in a situation where we’re worrying about him getting on, as opposed to if guys are on base, we know his ball in play is high, and he’s driving in a few more runs. And if he clears the bases, here’s another guy who can run at the bottom of the order and start it back up again. Give more guys at the top of the order another opportunity to generate runs.’’
In the Sox’ 3-1 Cactus League victory over the Diamondbacks Thursday night, Anderson doubled, tripled and singled in four plate appearances, raising his spring average to .304.
Renteria knows Anderson, who’s coming off a year in which he struggled with the painful loss of a close friend, is better served by going out and playing, as they say, rather than trying to reinvent himself. He sees the return of Anderson’s smile that was absent so much of last season and says he doesn’t want him “to change who he is.”
Anderson, 24, is good with that, although the 2014 first-round pick isn’t ruling out becoming more selective this season and beyond.
“When I start walking, people are going to be like, ‘He’s not swinging the bat,’ ’’ Anderson said. “It has its pros and cons. It’s never been part of my game, going up there and looking for a walk. I feel like I’ve been getting better at the plate and maturing as a hitter. The walks will come as I get more hits and mature as a hitter.’’
Anderson’s 17 homers ranked 10th among major-league shortstops.
“That’s always been there if I get a pitch to hit,’’ he said of his power. “But my game is gap to gap and using my legs. But there’s more in there; I think there’s a lot more. We’ll see what happens.’’
As opening day draws near, Anderson is eager to find out. The Sox played the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale on Thursday night. They have three games left in Arizona and an exhibition game against their Class AAA team in Charlotte on Monday. The season opener is next Thursday against the Royals in Kansas City.
“I’m excited, man,’’ Anderson said. “We’re ready.’’
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