‘Nothing changes’ for Tim Anderson after signing long-term deal

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Tim Anderson (AP)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — So far, so good.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson has fresh money in his pocket, financial security for his family and not a care in the world when it comes to paying the bills.

He’s only 23, but his employer isn’t worried the $25 million contract he signed last week will change him.

“We talked about … if there was anyone in the organization who felt that Tim got guaranteed money that it would change how he approached the game and how he prepared,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “And everyone I had that conversation with immediately to a man said ‘no.’ ”

When the Sox locked up Adam Eaton with a $23.5 million extension well before he was eligible for free agency in similar fashion two years ago, Eaton, then 26, reacted in a different way. He admittedly began to press, and his performance in spring training reflected it.

“We’re all human,” Anderson said. “You can’t go out and be a superhero.’’

In Anderson’s first at-bat after signing the deal, he tripled to right-center field against Cole Hamels. He is batting .308 with a homer, four doubles and a triple this spring.

Sometimes athletes put pressure on themselves after signing for big money, like Eaton did. Others set the accelerator on cruise control.

Anderson, who got the extension despite having only 99 major-league games under his belt, is far from a finished product, and he insists he won’t stop striving to perfect his skills.

“You still have to approach the game the same way,” he said. “Nothing changes. You go out and play the game the right way. Hustle. Some people sign contracts and tend to relax, but you approach the game the same way. I’m still going to go 100 percent in everything I do.”

Anderson and wife Bria have a 2-year-old daughter, Peyton, who commands his attention at home and while he’s on his phone at his locker. Life is good for the Alabama native, not that he was struggling to make ends meet before his new deal. The Sox signed him to a $2.164 million bonus after they drafted him 17th overall in June 2013 out of East Central Community College in Decatur, Mississippi. The contract pays him $850,000 in 2017, $1 million in 2018, $1.4 million in 2019, $4 million in 2020, $7.25 million in 2021 and $9.5 million in 2022. The Sox hold club options for 2023 at $12.5 million and 2024 at $14 million.

“Everything is sinking in,” he said. “Feeling so blessed. Happy with where I’m at and in a good position.”

And relaxed.

“Definitely,” he said. “Having fun. It’s easier to just go out and play now. Just to be able to play this game, who would have thought if you had looked back five years I would be in this position?”

The Sox put him there because of his work ethic and makeup.

“He’s about trying to be great and trying to win championships,” Hahn said. “He’s not doing this for the money. He’s not going to change his work ethic or who he is in the clubhouse or the field just because he has guaranteed cash in his pocket now. That’s part of the consideration when you enter into something like this.”

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

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