Anderson more comfortable in role
New-found maturity helps White Sox reserve find patience
CLEVELAND -- Back around Halloween, when Brian Anderson spoke to MLB.com concerning his frustration as to how the White Sox were handling his possible placement for winter baseball, the young outfielder took another thinly veiled shot at the organization about his big league usage or lack thereof during the previous season.
If the White Sox were worried about him getting extra at-bats, Anderson reasoned, they shouldn't have limited him to 17 during the first month of 2007.
Well, that angry version of Anderson seems to have disappeared with the changing of the seasons and the passing of holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas to Valentine's Day and Easter.
In that former character's place stands the same outgoing, crazy personality, with a more mature outlook and more polished baseball presence. Take, for example, his losing out to Alexei Ramirez on a chance to start in center, a temporary job with Jerry Owens possibly returning next week from a slight tear in his right adductor.
Anderson is the best defensive outfielder on the team and ripped the baseball during his most recent stint in Arizona, but he readily admitted that Ramirez earned the everyday nod. While Anderson hopes for his first start this weekend in Detroit, as left-handers Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis are scheduled to throw the first two games, he stays ready for any situation in which manager Ozzie Guillen might call upon him.
"Right now, I feel like I'm in a position where I can maximize any at-bats I have in the early going," Anderson said. "Hopefully, it turns out where I can start again, but I'm still dangerous off the bench."
Ramirez actually has started slowly, going hitless in his first seven at-bats before a ninth-inning single Wednesday off Jorge Julio. Guillen certainly isn't about to yank the "Cuban Missile" off the field because of two less-than-productive efforts, and Ramirez holds too strong of a belief in his abilities to lose confidence.
"All I care about is playing baseball," said Ramirez recently through translator and bench coach Joey Cora. "I don't set goals for myself and I just want to go out and play, and whatever happens, happens. Whatever Ozzie says, that's where I'll play."
With Ramirez trying to make changes to combat pitchers' alterations, a game or two break for the rookie could help his big league adjustment period. Such a rest brought Carlos Quentin into Thursday's starting lineup against Cleveland starter Jake Westbrook.
Regardless of the amount of at-bats he receives, Anderson finds himself in a better place to handle reserve work and big league competition than before.
"He's definitely in a better pace, but I don't care who you are because that's still a tough place," said White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker. "Questions like that usually answer themselves in baseball. If they don't, he's going to have to battle through it because those are the cards he has been dealt."
"It sounds kind of corny or cliché," added Anderson of his new attitude, "but something just clicked with me. I have to wait patiently and see how things play out."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.