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White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson ‘reaching for the stars’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As shortstop Tim Anderson winds down his second full season, his confidence could not be higher.

That it comes with a dash of humility and a sense of knowing he’s far from the finished product he has in mind will serve him and the White Sox well.

“I’m never satisfied,’’ Anderson said before the Sox played the Royals on Tuesday night. “I just want to keep getting better and better.’’

Hard work with bench coach and infield specialist Joe McEwing is paying off on the defensive side.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson throws to first after forcing out Detroit Tigers' Jeimer Candelario at second base on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in Chicago. (AP)

“Oh, he works his tail off,” said third-base coach Nick Capra, the Sox’ director of player development during Anderson’s formative years after he was drafted in the first round in 2013. “When we’re on the field, he’s first in line.’’

Anderson is making plays to his right and to his left and charging in. The routine plays are becoming just that, as they need to for a middle-infield presence the Sox view as championship-caliber. The doubters about his defense, and there were many when he opened the season with 12 errors in the first three months, are diminishing.

“I still have to eliminate some of those errors, but right now I’m just playing balls to the wall, and if I make errors, so what,’’ Anderson said. “I have a lot of range, and some of those errors come on plays some shortstops don’t get to. I like where my game is going.

“Defensively, it’s been a matter of doing my work every day to try to become one of the best shortstops to ever play the game. I just keeping pushing myself and keep reaching for the stars.’’

“He’s made tremendous strides defensively,’’ Capra said. “He’s been focused. He’s taking the information he’s getting, and he’s running with it. It’s like he’s on a mission to prove everyone wrong who said he couldn’t be a shortstop.’’

Offensively, Anderson is reaching for places where few have gone, a .247 batting average and .289 on-base percentage notwithstanding. With 18 homers and 26 stolen bases, he was one of four players in the majors with at least that many, joining Mookie Betts, Starling Marte and Jose Ramirez.

No Sox shortstop has had at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in a season, and outfielders Alex Rios in 2010 and Tommie Agee in 1966 are the only Sox to have 20 homers and 30 stolen bases. The 30/30 club looks even better, and attainable one of these years, to Anderson.

“Why not set the bar high?” Anderson said. “It’s out there and the potential is there for me to grow into that as I become a better hitter, so it’s a possibility. Right now where I’m at, I’m in a great spot. I just have to keep working, keep breaking down video and learning my swing.’’

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Anderson, second on the Sox behind Jose Abreu with 60 RBI, said he knows the book on him is breaking balls away and hard stuff in. Adjusting is part of the learning process.

“I’ve learned something new every year,’’ he said. “I have to keep at it until I figure it out to become a complete hitter. The average isn’t where I want it to be, but the power numbers have been up. I’m still learning and trying to figure out who I am.’’

Married with a baby daughter, Anderson, 25, said he needs no more inspiration than that to be the best he can be.

“If I don’t go out and work, they don’t eat; I have to provide for them,’’ he said. “I keep them in the back of my mind with their names in my hat, so they push me every day to get better. Of course I want to get better. It’s easy when you come to the ballpark every day and do something you love.’’