GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Bryan Anderson has had a long list of people to meet since he arrived at Camelback Ranch last Thursday.
A non-roster invitee to White Sox camp, the catcher said Thursday that he knew one person within the organization when he signed a minor league deal this offseason.
Anderson, 26, spent eight seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system and only knew Sox minor-league roving instructor Tim Laker, and that’s because both went to Simi Valley High (Calif.).
“I really didn’t know anybody,” Anderson said.
The White Sox did know Anderson, however. A member of the front office said that the team has watched the backstop for the past five seasons and likes his bat. Anderson has a .282 career average in the minors.
“He didn’t just jump up on our radar,” the source said.
Anderson has played one game fewer in the majors than Hector Gimenez, who has 11, and only 98 fewer than projected starter Tyler Flowers. Gimenez has the inside track to the backup job.
But worrying about a roster spot isn’t Anderson’s primary focus for now. His goal is to meet and catch every pitcher he can, a list that included 10 pitchers before Thursday’s workout, including Gavin Floyd and Matt Thornton.
“It’s just about communication,” Anderson said. “I want them to be comfortable with me behind the plate so it’s just getting to know their style. A lot of it’s going to be my part, doing my homework and making sure I know them. It’s also getting to know them off the field a little bit.”
No ‘K’ in Keppinger
Infielder Jeff Keppinger isn’t a fan of the strikeout.
Fortunately for him he hasn’t had to deal with the anguish of too many whiffs as a professional. Last season, Keppinger struck out only 31 times in 418 plate appearances and he has struck out once every 15.65 plate appearances in his career.
“When I was a little kid I used to cry when I struck out,” Keppinger said. “I hated walking back to the dugout knowing I couldn't run to first base. I felt like everyone was looking at me and upset with me that I didn’t hit the ball. So it's something that has carried with me throughout my life and career.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura indicated that Keppinger is a strong candidate to hit second in the team’s lineup. Keppinger said he has recovered well from a broken right fibula this off-season and his ankle hasn’t given him any problems.
Rios preps for WBC
Alex Rios isn’t worried about his schedule being hampered by the World Baseball Classic, which begins March 3. Rios is on Puerto Rico’s roster and the team opens play on their home field in San Juan, which means he’ll have to leave the White Sox for at least two weeks.
Any distraction caused is worth it for Rios.
“It’s something every ball player looks forward to, playing for your country and play in front of your crowd,” Rios said. “I think everybody should be proud. I am proud. I will be proud if I play. But it’s something that’s fun do to.”
Ventura: Morel looks healthy
Ventura caught his first glimpse of Brent Morel right before SoxFest and said he looks like a different player. Morel has rehabbed a back issue that lingered all last season and has shown better bat speed, Ventura said.
“A slight injury, it just makes guys look different in the way they move around and for him he’s swinging the bat free and easy,” Ventura said. “It’s different when you get some spikes on and when you’re running around and doing stuff. His [injury situation] is more of longevity of being able to stay and play nice and loose.”
Ventura also said Morel could gets looks at other infield spots this spring to give him more versatility.
Pitching coach Don Cooper said Dylan Axelrod is scheduled to be the team’s starting pitcher for its Feb. 23 Cactus League opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Prospect Andre Rienzo, who is on Brazil’s WBC roster, could pitch out of the bullpen on Feb. 23 and is scheduled to pitch two innings on Feb. 26, Cooper said.