Cubs’ Nick Madrigal: White Sox’ Tim Anderson ‘tried getting the most out of me’

Playing his former team, Nick Madrigal went 2-for-3 in the Cubs’ 4-3 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday.

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Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner played middle infield with White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson for the first two seasons of his career.

Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner played middle infield with White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson for the first two seasons of his career.

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Almost every one of Cubs second baseman Nick Madrigal’s former White Sox teammates said something to him when they reached second base in the series opener. 

That list included Jose Abreu, Yasmani Grandal and Tim Anderson, who was Madrigal’s middle-infield mate during the first two seasons of his major-league career.

“Just to see him doing his thing and see him healthy and playing is definitely cool,” Anderson told the Sun-Times.

Madrigal, who suffered a season-ending hamstring tear last June with the Sox, faced his old team for the first time in this two-game series. The Cubs lost 4-3 Wednesday, dropping both games to their crosstown rivals.

Madrigal went 3-for-6 in the series. He said he was seeing the ball a lot better after the Cubs’ 3-1 loss Tuesday in which he made solid contact in two at-bats, one for a single and the other for a lineout. 

All of Anderson’s memories of Madrigal are of “a guy that can hit.” Nicknamed Nicky Two Strikes for his bat-to-ball skills with two strikes, Madrigal had a .317 batting average during his Sox tenure. 

“He’s going to hit and hit and keep on hitting,” Anderson said. “That’s what he does.”

Madrigal has yet to prove that on the North Side. He’s hitting only .235 but saw promising signs in the Crosstown Classic. 

“The ball’s starting to slow down a little bit,” Madrigal said Tuesday. “I think I’m in a good place right now.”

The next day, he went 2-for-3. Madrigal made contact up the middle for his first hit, with Sox center fielder Luis Robert sliding in to pick the ball on the hop. But Madrigal tried to stretch the single into a double, and Robert tossed the ball to Anderson from the ground for an easy tag.  

Then in the eighth inning, Madrigal hit a single through the left side of the infield to move the would-be tying run to third — the Cubs stranded him there. Madrigal and Anderson got another chance to chat that inning when Madrigal took second base on defensive indifference. 

Anderson standing at the bag and Madrigal jogging toward him was a different up-the-middle configuration than they were used to. 

“We had a good time while he was here,” Anderson said. “More so just trying to help him along the way.” 

Anderson was the reigning batting champion when Madrigal made his debut. But the shortstop said the rookie never needed help with hitting.

“I was really just trying to teach him as much as I could, how to be a clubhouse guy, how to be a great teammate, how to go out and compete and also have a little dog in you,” Anderson said.

Anderson said Madrigal did compete hard, and the “dog in him” was starting to come out before he tore his hamstring. Madrigal chalks it up to different playing styles.  

“I appreciate everything he did for me,” Madrigal said. “He was someone that was always talking the game with me when things were going good and bad. And we have the friendship on the field and off the field. We have a respect for each other. So it does mean a lot that he tried getting the most out of me.”

And Madrigal says it meant a lot to hear how highly Anderson spoke of his hitting ability.

“I haven’t been up in the [majors] all that long, but I feel like there have been spurts where I’ve done well,” Madrigal said. “And I’m excited to show what I can do over a full year. So I’m hoping that’s this year, and we’ll see what happens.”

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