By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson has had a rough first full season in the big leagues.READ MORE: Coronavirus In Illinois: 298 New Cases, Including 11 Deaths; 52% Of Adults Fully Vaccinated
Promoted to the White Sox in June 2016, Anderson’s initial transition to the top level went well, as he hit .283 with a .738 OPS in 99 games. This season has been more difficult and is one in which Anderson has had to deal with severe emotional trauma.
In May, Anderson’s close friend Branden Moss was shot and killed in Alabama. It hit the 24-year-old Anderson extremely hard and on several occasions, he’s been open about the emotional toll it has taken on him and how he’s had to cope. A soft spoken man to begin with, Anderson was sent into an emotional spiral that affected him professionally as well on the field.
Now three months later, Anderson believes he’s dealing with the difficult situation better.
“I feel more like myself,” Anderson said. “The numbness is starting to go away now.”
While he entered play Thursday hitting .242 with a .637 OPS, Anderson has been hot of late, riding a seven-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .355. Anderson homered and had three RBIs in a win against the Astros on Wednesday.
The White Sox have been as supportive as any organization could be through Anderson’s emotional struggles.
“These unique situations have more to do with the human element,” manager Rick Renteria said. “This is about human beings dealing with human issues. I think he is able to focus now and get some things done on the field.”READ MORE: Archdiocese Of Chicago Relaxes COVID-19 Protocols, Lifts Capacity Limits
White Sox excited for Lopez’s debut
Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, 23, will make his White Sox debut Friday when he starts against the Royals. He joined the team Thursday and consulted with pitching coach Don Cooper.
“I know what he can do,” Renteria said. “I have been watching his video and got to see him pitch in spring training. I am now looking forward to seeing him here on this stage with us. He has been in the minor leagues the whole season, so he will be a little excited. Hopefully, he can contain his emotions and show everyone what he can do out there.”
Lopez was the International League Pitcher of the Month in July. He had a 3.79 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 131 strikeouts in 121 innings at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Lopez made his big league debut with the Nationals in 2016, making 11 appearances.
Cooper ready for new wave of pitching talent
Now in his 15th full season as the White Sox pitching coach, Cooper is excited about welcoming Lopez as the first prized arm to reach the big leagues amid this rebuild. After years of working with the likes of Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, Cooper now has a new group of talented pitchers to groom.
“For me it has always been fun to be a part of guy’s first day in the big leagues,” Cooper said. “The first start in the big leagues, first time in a White Sox uniform. We as coaches get a front-row seat to watch people try and realize their dream. That is the perk of the job. I am excited about the names and the talent that we are developing. Somewhere down the road, we are going to be back (winning). Right now for the pitching staff, there are great opportunities the way I see it. It is us (as coaches) doing fact finding and who eventually will be here in the future for us next year.”MORE NEWS: Man Shot While Standing Outside In Old Norwood Park
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.