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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Former Wildcat Anderson looking for return to Sox

    Last spring was a tough one for Chicago White Sox center fielder Brian Anderson.

    Not only did the White Sox choose to bring in veteran outfielder Darin Erstad to challenge Anderson and eventually take away his starting job, but the former Arizona baseball star also spent spring training sleeping on the floor of his friends’ two-room condo.

    This season, with things looking brighter for the five-year professional throughout the preseason, a floor would no longer be adequate.

    “”I (stayed) in the same place, but definitely not sleeping on the floor this year,”” Anderson, a two-year veteran of the White Sox, said with a laugh. “”One of my friends moved out so I was able to take that bed. It’s a lot more comfortable, I can tell you that.””

    While his living arrangements became cushier, the pressure at the ball park sure didn’t. Though Erstad left for Houston, the White Sox didn’t give Anderson his spot back just like that. Instead the organization acquired former Oakland Athletics outfielder Nick Swisher in the offseason to add to the outfield position.

    With Anderson spending the majority of last season with Chicago’s triple-A affiliate in Charlotte, N.C., where he batted .255 with 31 RBIs through 57 games, as well as battling a recurring wrist injury, the acquisition of the four-year veteran Swisher only added to the pressure of spring training for Anderson.

    But if you ask Anderson, the team’s latest addition to the outfield has not been a burden. Instead, it’s been a learning experience.

    “”He’s gonna make me a better ball player,”” Anderson said. “”I believe Swisher and I really compliment each other. He’s a guy about my age (Anderson is 26, Swisher is 27) who is an accomplished player and I think he can show me a thing or two.””

    Whether or not Swisher truly did make an impact on him, Anderson finished the preseason with one of his most productive efforts. Through 25 games, Anderson maintained a .324 batting average with 12 RBIs and four home runs – a performance which would make it hard for Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen to leave him off the opening day roster.

    “”This spring (was) probably the best baseball he’s played for me since I got this job,”” Guillen said of Anderson. “”He’s done a good job and done well. The talent is there, and we want him to be a part of this ball club.””

    Guillen stood by his comments regarding his young outfielder by rewarding Anderson with his third consecutive spot on the
    opening day roster. Anderson, however, did not see any action yesterday in Chicago’s 10-8 opening day loss to the Cleveland Indians as Swisher, Jermaine Dye and Alexei Ramirez rounded out the White Sox’ outfield.

    Whether or not Anderson finds a permanent place on Chicago’s roster, Arizona head coach Andy Lopez is confident Anderson, who hit a career high .370 in his first year at Arizona under Lopez, will eventually find success at the Major League level.

    “”(Anderson’s) a really athletic player,”” Lopez said. “”He’s as good of an athlete as I’ve coached in a while. When you see a player like that who can make adjustments, you know they’re going to be successful.””

    With the White Sox’ spring training facility located in South Tucson, Lopez has been given the opportunity to keep a close eye on Anderson since he made his major league debut with Chicago in August 2005.

    Every spring before camp opens, Anderson, as well as several other former Wildcats-turned-major-leaguers, stop by the Wildcats’ Sancet Stadium for some extra workouts with Lopez and the rest of the Arizona coaching staff.

    This gives Lopez time to chat and pass on advice to his former players, many of whom are battling for positions on their
    respective teams.

    His main message for Anderson and the rest of the young prospects: Be patient.

    “”You’re playing for 30 clubs (in spring training),”” Lopez said. “”It’d be nice if (the White Sox) pick (Anderson) up, but if you keep playing well, someone’s going to pick you up and the next thing you know you’re in the big leagues.

    “”I always tell the guys, ‘Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work out with a certain team. Just go out and be aggressive and know that every time you play, if there’s not an opening at that specific position, someone’s going to fall in love with you.’ That happens quite often.””

    For Anderson, the White Sox may be just on the verge of falling in love with him as he is expected to get some playing time soon with Chicago outfielder Jerry Owens currently on the 15-day disabled list with a slight tear in his right abductor muscle.

    With his hitting much improved from last season, when Anderson hit just .118 in 13 games for the White Sox, this year could be the one that the former Arizona graduate finally becomes a regular face in the major leagues.

    “”He’s made huge strides the last few years,”” said Greg Walker, Anderson’s hitting coach. “”He came into camp this year with a great attitude, his maturity level has appeared to have gone up, and he’s handling the speed of the game better.

    “”We’re just looking for consistency,”” Walker added. “”But at this point, he’s doing everything we could ask of him.””

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