Aside from Todd Frazier’s desire for a more vocal presence on the field, Tim Anderson’s play has brought few complaints so far.
The White Sox top prospect has flashed ridiculous speed, good hands and a strong arm at shortstop, and his aggressive bat has already made an impact. What’s more, the organization is more than satisfied with the maturity displayed by the 2013 first-round pick and his desire to improve.
To say the least, Anderson is off to a good start with the White Sox, who open a three-game series at Houston on Friday night.
“I've been impressed with Timmy,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He's a very confident kid. He's quiet, but there's some confidence and some inner-drive. He's not a showboat guy. He just goes out and plays and he's a hard-nosed kid.”
Anderson is hitting .314/.322/.512 with 10 extra-base hits, five RBIs and two stolen bases in his first 19 games. He has multiple hits in 10 contests, which is the most by a White Sox rookie through 19 games since Gus Zernial in 1949. Anderson also has produced three Defensive Runs Saved and is 0.7 Wins Above Replacement in his short time in the majors.
It hasn’t all been easy.
He struck out twice with the bases loaded late in a one-run loss at the Boston Red Sox on June 23. He also endured a 1-for-12 span almost immediately after he was promoted to the majors. And he has struck out 28 times in 88 plate appearances, a rate of 31.1 percent.
But even when he struggles, teammates say Anderson’s mood — quiet, upbeat and determined — has stayed the same.
“With Timmy doing what he’s doing, it’s nice to watch,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “I was telling Rick Renteria in the dugout, he doesn’t change one bit whether he’s bad or good. That’s the sign of a really great athlete.”
The ability to adapt has helped Anderson develop quickly.
[RELATED: Tim Anderson draws first walk of career]
One of the knocks on Anderson has always been that his tools are raw because he didn’t start to play until his junior year at Hillcrest High in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. With only four years of baseball experience when he was drafted, the White Sox expected to take their time with Anderson. Before this season, general manager Rick Hahn said Anderson might need all season at Triple-A Charlotte to refine his game.
But Anderson forced their hand.
“He's come a long way in the last couple years as far as just his instinctual stuff on the field and the inner timing of everything, that baseball clock in your mind,” Ventura said. “He's got it on spot.
“Just the ball off the bat, his reactions, his first step quickness. The first thing you really notice is how he moves. He's been great.”
Frazier agrees. He calls Anderson a catalyst at the top of the lineup as the White Sox have averaged 4.7 runs per game with him in the lineup. The team is 10-9 since Anderson arrived.
Frazier’s only point of contention with Anderson is in the field. But it’s all part of Frazier having fun with the rookie — “I bust his chops a lot,” he said.
“He doesn’t say much,” Frazier said. “I wish he would talk some more in the infield.
“Tell me if a guy’s stealing or not. Little things like that.”
Asked about Frazier’s ribbing on Thursday, Anderson started to smile. He recounted how the veteran informed him that the club planned to set aside the umpire, the pitcher and the ball for safe keeping after Anderson drew the first walk of his career.
Though he didn’t know what to expect at first, Anderson has started to find more comfort at the big league level. As for the on field-chatter with Frazier, that’s a work in progress.
“We are going to work on that,” Anderson said. “It’s coming.”
Joakim Noah doesn't have time for "unnamed league sources."
The former Bulls center posted a picture to his Instagram account on Friday afternoon of himself wearing a New York Knicks hat, indicating he has signed with the team as a free agent.
Indications since last night, when free agency began, were that Noah, who spent 10 seasons in Chicago, was going to sign with his hometown Knicks.
Last week the Bulls dealt Derrick Rose to the Knicks in a five-player deal. Noah and Rose have been teammates since Rose came into the league in 2008.
David Rundblad’s time with the Blackhawks looks to be all but over.
The Blackhawks placed Rundblad on buyout waivers, as first reported by Pierre LeBrun, on Friday. Rundblad was set to make $1.05 million this season; with buyout waivers, the Blackhawks would take a cap hit of $133,333 this season and $183,333 next season.
General manager Stan Bowman said Rundblad is looking for opportunity elsewhere.
“I think he’s looking to maybe pursue other opportunities, whether in the NHL or Europe, I can’t speak for him,” Bowman said. “He’s still a young guy and he wants to get back to playing a lot of hockey and that’s why he wanted to go to Europe mid-season. We were willing to honor that request. We’ll let him find a spot where he knows he’ll be a regular player every day.”
Rundblad was never an every-day player for the Blackhawks. While he had some offensive upside, Rundblad struggled defensively. Last season he played nine regular-season games with the Blackhawks and 10 with the Rockford IceHogs. He also spent a portion of last season with the ZSC Lions (Switzerland) before returning to the Blackhawks organization.
“He has a bright future. We wish him well. But it’s hard as a guy trying to establish yourself in the NHL if you don’t play a lot of minutes,” Bowman said. “But I think we’ll see David back in the NHL in a few years. I think he wants to find a better fit where he’ll play a lot.”