Close, but no reward: Grifol sticks with improved Tim Anderson batting second

Anderson in a 4-for-53 slump after going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in Friday’s loss to the A’s

SHARE Close, but no reward: Grifol sticks with improved Tim Anderson batting second
Tim Anderson reacts after striking out during the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins at Guaranteed Rate Field on June 09, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Getty Images)

Tim Anderson of the White Sox reacts after striking out during the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins at Guaranteed Rate Field on June 09, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Getty Images)


OAKLAND, Calif. — White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, mired in the worst slump of his career, continues to have the support of first-year manager Pedro Grifol.

Despite his recent offensive woes, Anderson stayed in the No. 2 spot in Grifol’s lineup for the Sox’ 7-6 loss in 10 innings Saturday against the Athletics.

The baseball fate conductors could have orchestrated a much-needed reprieve for Anderson, but that would have to wait.

“Baseball can be like that sometimes,” starting pitcher Dylan Cease said. “You put a good swing on it, and unfortunately another one didn’t go our way.”

With the bases loaded in the eighth inning, Anderson, who hasn’t homered since last July, hooked what was ruled a grand slam over the left-field foul pole. Anderson thought it was foul and didn’t circle the bases right away.

It was borderline cruel and cold. The struggling shortstop went through the high-five line in the dugout, only to have video review overturn the call. Anderson returned to the plate, where he flied out to right against Sam Long.

Instead of leading 10-4, the Sox’ lead was 6-4, and Anderson stood in the on-deck circle when their scoreless 10th ended, then watched the A’s (23-62) celebrate a walk-off on second baseman Elvis Andrus’ backhand bobble and first baseman Gavin Sheets’ delayed throw home trying to get Tyler Wade. It was the A’s second victory over the Sox (36-49), who must win Sunday with Touki Toussaint on the mound to avoid a series sweep.

Anderson, who walked, singled and scored a run in the first three innings, is swinging better. And he played a good defensive game. He declined to talk to reporters after the game.

Grifol spoke in full support of Anderson before the game.

“I don’t give up on players that easy,” Grifol said, when asked why Anderson wasn’t moved down in the lineup. “It’s not so much giving up on them, I have faith in them. At this point in time I don’t see a move.”

The day after Anderson went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts, which extended his slump to 4-for-53 with three walks in his previous 14 games and dropped the former batting champion’s average to .226, Grifol said he had hesitation batting Anderson second.

“He’s [performed] for a long, long time,” Grifol said. “You just don’t take it away from him for 60 games or whatever it is. You just don’t do that. In my opinion. He’s always one swing away. I have faith in him. I’ve spoken to him. He feels good.”

On Friday, hitting coach Jose Castro was ejected trying to defend a called third strike on Anderson in the fourth, but there was no beef about the three consecutive pitches down the middle that Anderson looked at in the second.

In the eighth inning Friday, Anderson struck out with runners on second and third for the third out. He took a few steps toward the dugout and slammed his helmet in frustration, an exclamation point on possibly the worst offensive game of his career.

Anderson owns a .267 on-base percentage and has not homered since last July. That lack of production at the top of the lineup, batting in front of the team’s best hitter, Luis Robert Jr., has been a detriment to a -struggling offense.

Grifol dropped Anderson from his customary leadoff spot on June 17 in Seattle, bumping Andrew Benintendi from second to first.

But Grifol remained confident Anderson will break out soon. He had “a good conversation” with Anderson Saturday morning, and, foul or fair, it was encouraging to see Anderson drive the ball later.

“He feels good and his spirits are up,” Grifol said. “He knows this is something that happens in life. He’s going through some adversity right now. I’m actually optimistic that he’s going to figure this thing out pretty quickly.”

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