By Bruce Levine–

CHICAGO (CBS) — White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is mourning the loss of one of his best friends.

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Anderson’s close friend Branden Moss, 23, was shot to death over the weekend in a parking lot in Tuscaloosa, Ala. It’s been a difficult season on the field for Anderson, who’s now been hit with a gut-wrenching off-the-field tragedy.

“That is definitely bothering me,” Anderson said Wednesday. “We had a real bond. I know he is in a better place, but I continue to play, have fun and do it for him.

“We had a very close bond,” Anderson said of Moss. “He was very close to me, more so a brother. We’re talking seven years of a great relationship. He’s my baby’s God dad, I was his a daughter’s God dad. It was that type of bond.”

Anderson was given the day off Sunday after he had been informed of his friend’s murder. After a team off day Monday, he was back on the field Tuesday. Anderson refused to use this incident or any off-the-field distraction as an excuse for his below-average play so far this season.

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Several days later, Anderson is still shaken and coping the best he can.

“He meant a lot to me,” Anderson said. “He was a special part of my life. I looked up to him, and we made each other better.”

Anderson is going through his first prolonged slump in the big leagues. After signing a six-year, $25-million in March that could be worth up to $50.5 million with club options, he entered Thursday hitting .210 with two homers, six RBIs and a .521 OPS in 28 games.

“This has been one of the toughest years of my life,” he said. “It is something I am controlling. I am working hard on not letting off-the-field issues control what I do on the field. That’s something I am still learning. All of this is new to me. I continue to grow and mature, definitely (to) become a better teammate and player.”

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Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.