2 years ago

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin’s White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Talks to him frequently. And we’re not just talking about on the field, in the dugout and in the clubhouse. They share a friendship bond ultimately geared toward a championship.

“We have a great friendship. Just being able to talk to him about anything. Being able to text and call him,” the White Sox shortstop told me this weekend in Boston. “We talk all the time. We have a great relationship. Just his competitive mode, him coming here definitely rubbed off a lot on me. I just want to win every day. I always go to him and tell him give me something good.

“Whether it’s words or something, give me something that’s going to motivate me today. He is a Hall of Famer. Why wouldn’t you want to learn from a guy like that? Just try to soak up as much game as I can from him. He’s a legend.”

La Russa learns from Anderson as well, and the mutual respect is off the charts. He calls him a prime-time, championship player and compares his competitive desire to Michael Jordan’s, which is a high compliment anywhere but especially in Chicago.

“It’s not about leading the league in hitting,” said La Russa of Anderson. “It’s getting in October, winning a championship, with that kind of desire and talent and energy level. I enjoy talking to him.”

“He did everything, all these things in his career and he’s been around so many great people. He’s coached so many great people,” Anderson said. “I really wanted to learn the game from him to be able to take my game to the next level to be a better person and a better player. Understand what it takes to win and try to win it all.”

I’ve known Anderson since shortly after he was drafted 17th overall in the 2013, and it’s been great to watch his development as a player and as a leader. The White Sox entered Monday with a 115-80 record since 2020 when Anderson is in the lineup, compared to 27-27 when he does not play.

During that same time frame, the White Sox are 98-51 when Anderson gets at least one hit, 56-21 when he has a multi-hit effort, 23-6 when he produced a three-hit game and 25-3 when he hits a home run. It would be easy for Anderson to be a little cocky being that important to a championship-caliber team.

But it’s a thin line between cockiness and total confidence, especially as an outside perception. It’s why Anderson often lets his play tell the story as much as his on-point quotes.

“There are people who don’t really know me besides what they see,” Anderson said. “When I speak, that’s why I don’t really say a whole lot. It can come off as being cocky because I’m so confident.

“I say that I’m better than that man. That’s not really being cocky. It’s just really being confident and getting my motor going to where I can actually be better than him. Just manifesting it. That’s why I stay within myself and play and let my game speak for itself.

“That’s why I play the way I do, I help these guys the way I do,” Anderson said. “I want to win. I mean, I’m here for, I have an expiration date on how long I’ll be here, so I want to max out while I’m here, while I’m in the game, and see where it takes me.”