White Sox working on ‘togetherness’ in 2023, Tim Anderson says

Anderson agrees with Jose Abreu. “We weren’t as one last year, and it showed in the way we played.”

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White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson takes batting practice during spring training.

John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tim Anderson is cool with what Jose Abreu said.

In fact, he agrees with Abreu, who said the White Sox were not a family in 2022.

“That’s true,” the Sox’ All-Star shortstop told the Sun-Times on Sunday. “That’s why we’re trying to build a togetherness.”

Abreu, after nine seasons on the South Side, is an Astro now. The Sox had limited interest in bringing him back, and it hurt Abreu to know it. He signed a three-year, $58.5 million contract in the offseason and spoke emotionally to the Sun-Times at the Astros’ spring-training site last week.

“These guys here, they’re a real family,” Abreu said of his new team.

Anderson seemed somewhat disconnected last season, in part because injuries limited him to 79 games. Neither he nor Abreu is a textbook leader, but each led in his own way — Abreu with his work habits, Anderson with his energy and edge on the field.

In any case, neither one could pull the team together on his own.

“I didn’t really want to talk about it last year, but there really wasn’t a togetherness,” Anderson said. “And that’s cool that [Abreu] said that. It’s not like he’s bashing anybody; he’s just speaking his truth. That’s how he felt. When it feels like family, that probably makes him better. What we didn’t have wasn’t making him happy, and that’s cool. Now he’s in Houston. He had to create something that is different and works better for him. We’re still going to cheer him on. And when we see him, give him a hug.”

That will be on Opening Day, March 30, in Houston.

“There’s still love,” Anderson said. “It’s all about what works for you, and last year didn’t work for him.”

Not much worked last season for the Sox, who are attempting to pull together in 2023, starting now.

“For sure, we have to find that togetherness, and this spring has been good,” Anderson said. “Being as one. We weren’t as one last year, and it showed in the way we played. We looked good on paper but didn’t look good on the field.”

They finished 81-81, and it wasn’t pretty.

A new manager, with new staff, might help.

“We addressed it already,” second baseman Elvis Andrus said. “Pedro [Grifol], he’ll find a way to get us there. As soon as we can all stay together, the talent will take over.”

So far, so good.

“I think so,” Anderson said. “You’re spending time with guys that come from all over the world, from different backgrounds who are with each other all year. It’s only right to make it family because you’re spending more time with these guys. It’s only right to keep that connection and make that bond stronger. It makes everybody better. And comfortable.”

Anderson looks around the clubhouse and sees enough talent to make last season an afterthought. A former batting champion, Anderson sees potential great things from himself and his teammates.

“Super-excited,” he said. “The sky is the limit. It could be huge; it could be big. You never know what can happen. As long as you’re thinking positive, you can take over the world. It’s possible.

“This team can do something that will blow your mind; I can do something that will blow your mind. Anybody can.”

And if everyone is pulling from the same rope, the chance of that happening increases. Anderson also knows teams have fought with each other and still won. The most important thing is playing good baseball.

“Right. You don’t [have to all be best friends],” he said. “As long as you play well, that’s cool. But every team is different, and you have teams that may want that togetherness. If [Abreu is] preaching family, he’s looking at everybody as their brother. That says what kind of teammate he is. Looking at everybody as his brother vs. just like a teammate means, ‘I know you got my back when we step between the lines.’ ’’

Talk is cheap. Doing it is another thing.

All together now, all eyes are on the Sox to see how much family really matters in 2023.

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