By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — For White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, it has been a season of sadness and disappointment on and off of the field.
The 24-year-old Anderson lost his best friend in May as a result of a shooting in Alabama, and the tragedy has been on his mind since. Anderson has dealt with natural distractions and bouts of depression since.
On the field, Anderson been inconsistent on a daily basis, entering play Wednesday hitting .232 with a .601 OPS and 22 errors. On Tuesday evening, Anderson showed some feistiness, getting into a back-and-forth with Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman that led to the benches emptying.
“He tried to throw me off of my rhythm,” Anderson said. “I tried to do the same thing to him. I stepped out of the box, he complained. That is what led to it. He was crying like he always does.”
The way Anderson has stood up for himself is admirable. He’s been working hard at his craft, even if the results don’t show consistency yet. The White Sox coaching staff has been with him every step of the way.
“He has been great,” said bench coach Joe McEwing, who also works with the infielders. “His work ethic has been outstanding, and he is getting his fielding and hitting work in every day. Whatever that happens during a game, right or wrong, we will break it down on video. He is still learning on the job. He is a young man who had not had a lot of baseball experience along the way. He is still learning himself. He is still learning what he can and can’t do.
“Part of the day for him is learning hitters and learning tendencies. He must continue to learn and adjust as he plays on. We feel he will be a better player and a stronger individual going forward from what he has been going through now.”
Manager Rick Renteria has been asked time and again about Anderson’s struggles. In that vein, has the media spotlight been overwhelming on Anderson?
“For anyone, this is a learning process,” Renteria said, referencing the dustup with Stroman more specifically. “Everyone has their own idea of what they think is appropriate or inappropriate. He certainly has a right to voice his opinion. You learn from these things and grow from them. If you think you must make an adjustment, you do. As far as dealing with people, you are always learning. He is also a big league baseball player who wants to do well. He is going to show a little fire.”
There have been times this season in which Anderson looked confused with his footwork around second base or how to attack a ground ball, but he’s made some strides on defense lately.
“I don’t want to put a lot into his mind,” McEwing said. “That is because everything he does well is as a reactionary. The more he has to think about it, the less it allows his body to do what it does so well. We tried some drills to slow him down going to the bag last year. He dropped four in a row. That was a great learning tool for me on how to teach one individual. That is the way we are working with Tim now. We just give him enough and do not overload him with too much information.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.