Tim Anderson takes liking to 2-hole in White Sox’ lineup
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Shortstop Tim Anderson is getting comfortable in his second season, especially when he’s in the No. 2 spot in the White Sox’ lineup.
Just where he settles in, though, is to be determined.
Anderson got lengthy stints in the top two spots in former manager Robin Ventura’s lineups as a rookie last season, leading off in 41 games and batting second in 48 after getting his bearings in the lower part of the order when the Sox called him up June 10. Manager Rick Renteria has used Anderson as a leadoff man and No. 2 hitter this spring.
In a rebuilding season for the Sox, Anderson is an important building block locked in at a key position. The Sox view him as a potential All-Star and want to put him where he can excel.
‘‘Having a potential championship-caliber shortstop in place for the next six years or so is one less thing to worry about,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said.
Anderson said he doesn’t worry about where Renteria will use him, but he’s pretty clear on where he wants to hit.
‘‘I love that 2-spot because I’m an aggressive hitter,’’ he said. ‘‘That 1-spot kind of slows me down a little.’’
Batting first generally puts more emphasis on working counts and taking pitches. While some would like to see Anderson draw more walks — he walked 13 times in 431 plate appearances last season — he has an aggressive style. If he sees a first-pitch fastball to his liking, he’s all-in.
‘‘You have to see a few pitches here and there,’’ Anderson said of batting leadoff, especially in the first inning. ‘‘Kind of make the pitchers throw everything they’ve got and relay it to my guys.
‘‘I like the 2-hole better, but I don’t mind hitting first. If I can jump on [the pitcher] quick, start off with a double or triple, that’s a good way to set the table.’’
Anderson, who is batting .367 with no walks in nine Cactus League games, battled through a 13-pitch at-bat last week against the Brewers, so he can go deep in counts. And he does supply pop at the top. He had nine home runs, six triples and 22 doubles last season.
Renteria still has time to decide where Anderson will bat, but it would help if someone stepped up as a leadoff option. Outfielder Charlie Tilson is out of the picture with an injury to his right foot. Speedy Peter Bourjos, who is making a case for taking the center-field job, led off and had two hits Monday against the Indians to hike his spring average to .385. But Bourjos is a .243 hitter with a .300 on-base percentage in his career.
Anderson’s free swinging doesn’t help his on-base percentage, and that doesn’t make him an ideal leadoff man despite his speed. Where does he fit best?
‘‘Good question,’’ Renteria said Monday. ‘‘I like Timmy in both the first and second slot. In the second slot, he handles the bat really well. He can go to right, he can pull the ball, he can do a lot of different things.’’
Where Anderson batted last season didn’t seem to affect him much. His slash lines leading off (.279/.303/.419) and batting second (.278/.296/.409) were remarkably similar.
Meanwhile, the soft-spoken Anderson is getting more comfortable with teammates and media. The Sox expect him to flourish in his first full season.
‘‘He’s confident,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘He’s not trying to put a label on himself and allow the noise — all the periphery and speculation of what he’s supposed to be or not supposed to be — to [affect him]. What he will ultimately be, time will tell.’’
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