Tim Anderson is ‘sleeper’ pick to click for White Sox

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Sox shortstop Tim Anderson isn’t worried about the team’s bad stretch in run-scoring situations. (AP)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The first inning of shortstop Tim Anderson’s 2018 season was a lot like James Shields’ first.

Not too good.

But like the 36-year-old Shields, who gave up four runs and five hits in the first inning of the White Sox’ opener against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, the 24-year-old Anderson bounced back strong after he failed to wrap his glove around a one-hop smash that could’ve been a double play and the break a struggling Shields needed in the first inning.

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“Right. But those things happen, you know?’’ Shields said of the Anderson play. The official scorer gave Whit Merrifield a hit after first calling it an error.

Shields shrugged it off, regrouped and strung together five scoreless innings, and the Sox hit six homers, including two by Anderson, to make everything rosy. According to STATS, Orval Overall of the 1908 Cubs against the Reds was the last pitcher to allow four runs in the first inning of his team’s opener and win.

“We put together some good at-bats and helped Shields out and got back in the ballgame,’’ said Anderson, who also walked and scored from first on a single.

Anderson is getting back into his happy place after struggling with the death of a close friend last season. He became the first Sox shortstop to homer on Opening Day, continuing a run that shows him hitting .349 with five homers, 14 RBI and 23 runs scored in 26 games since Sept. 3.

Rest and emotional healing are reasons he’s trending in a different direction. “He had a great deal of difficulty sleeping [last season], especially when we were traveling,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said. “It’s pretty hard to play this game at the highest level even when you’re at your peak physical state, much less when you’re significantly sleep-deprived.’’

Jimenez injured

Outfielder Eloy Jimenez suffered a mild strain to his left pectoral muscle while working out at the Sox’ spring-training complex.

Jimenez, the No. 4 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline, will be held out of baseball activities for about a week and is expected to ramp back up in extended spring-training games before rejoining Class AA Birmingham.

Jimenez missed about two weeks in spring training with knee tendinitis.

Hall of Fame class

No. 9 batter Adam Engel (single, double, two walks) was the first Sox player since Hall of Famers Tim Raines and Frank Thomas in 1992 to have multiple walks and hits in a season opener.

“I saw that, yeah,” Engel said. “That’s crazy, especially in the ninth spot. Not that it says a lot about me; it says a lot about your club offensively when the guy in the 9-hole gets five at-bats.’’

Glass half-Fulmer

No. 5 starter Carson Fulmer called his bullpen session Saturday productive in advance of his scheduled first start Tuesday in Toronto. Fulmer has been hot and cold, and the 2015 No. 8 overall draft pick’s push for the consistency he needs to stick in the rotation will be a developing Sox story out of the starting gate this season.

“He’s looking to discover who he is as a major-league pitcher,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “He has an opportunity to show everybody what he’s capable of doing.’’

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