Good news, anyone? Elvis Andrus signing brings needed dose to White Sox camp

Andrus happy to be here, ready to switch to second base.

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Elvis Andrus signed a one-year-contract with the White Sox Monday.

White Sox infielder Elvis Andrus is ready to move to second base.

Daryl Van Schouwen/Sun-Times

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On the first full-squad day of a camp starving for good news, the White Sox announced a player signing that put a smile back on general manager Rick Hahn’s face.

The addition of Elvis Andrus, at the relatively inexpensive price of $3 million for one year, nicely upgraded second base and the lineup with a two-time All-Star and one of the Sox’ top performers during his 43-game stay at shortstop last season. Andrus also fills a leadership void after Jose Abreu’s departure.

Andrus has played only shortstop during his 14-year career, but his athleticism and experience figure to make the transition to second base uncomplicated. Hahn sees no issue, nor does manager Pedro Grifol and Andrus.

“I don’t think it’s going to be such a big challenge for me, it’s just putting in the work,” Andrus said after his first workout Monday. “The ABCs of playing second is pretty much the same [as shortstop].”

As he anxiously waited out his first free-agent experience this winter, Andrus said he took ground balls at second. Shifting, which will be abolished this season, often put him on that side of second base as a shortstop.

“He’s a baseball player, he has instincts,” Grifol said. “I don’t see it as a problem at all. Andrus is a big addition to this ballclub. This is a place he wanted to be and where we welcomed him with open arms.”

Despite playing about one-fourth of the season, Andrus ranked sixth on the Sox in wins above replacement in 2022, according to Baseball Reference, when a game-changing fix in his swing helped him bat .271/.309/.464 with nine homers in 43 games after the Athletics released him.

“We didn’t exactly just multiply his numbers by four from last year and say this is what we are going to get,” Hahn said. “If so, we might have the MVP.”

The Sox said they were hanging their hat on unproven Romy Gonzalez and promoted him on social media, but that looks like a bluff now as they waited out Andrus, who had the misfortune of entering a deep shortstop market.

“I was very anxious,” Andrus said. “I thought I was going to be playing it cool and all that, but I would lie if I told you I didn’t feel like, ‘OK, I need to go somewhere!’ But I trust myself, trust my agent [Boras Corporation], and we were able to arrange a year here. Very happy.”

The Sox knew in September they wanted Andrus to return. He could see it, too.

“I loved it. The joy that I had for a month, I wanted to be able to stretch that feeling to six, seven, eight months,” Andrus said. “It was an easy decision for me toward the end to come back.”

Andrus, 34, said he wanted to play on a winner, and going to a team that is expected to compete for the American League Central title was appealing.

Hahn said he came to the right place, last season’s face plant notwithstanding.

“I’ve said all along the expectations for this team are very high,” Hahn said. “We’re embarrassed by how things played out last year and know that this team is capable of much, much more.

“We get it, based on how we performed and what happened last year, why a lot of those expectations publicly have tempered. Internally, I don’t think expectations have changed.”

Having Andrus back gave everyone around the Sox something to feel good about, a stark contrast to Wednesday, when pitchers and catchers reported and Hahn opened his remarks addressing MLB’s investigation of domestic abuse allegations against Mike Clevinger.

It was a dour day on what ordinarily is one of the most upbeat days of a long season.

No one was smiling.

On Monday, even with the Clevinger investigation lingering, a welcome dose of news ruled the day.

“There’s a lot of smiles in that [locker] room today, and for good reason,” Hahn said.

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