Frustration simmers for Anderson
Disappointing '07, injury leave outfielder wondering what's next
CHICAGO -- The second half of the Mexican League's current winter schedule will begin with a roster spot reserved for Brian Anderson on the team known as Aguilas de Mexicali.
Judging by Anderson's recent comments, though, this particular opening looks as if it will stay vacant for the foreseeable future. The White Sox top pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft won't be adding on any offseason at-bats to compensate for a 2007 season shortened by injury and continued big league struggles.
"If the White Sox are really worried about me getting at-bats, well, I sat on [the bench] and had 17 at-bats for the whole first month [last season]," said Anderson of a possible winter playing stint in Mexico during an interview with MLB.com. "Apparently, at-bats weren't that important.
"I haven't really thought about that. I'm not sure what's going on because nobody [from the White Sox] has contacted me about what's going on.
"I'm not a 6-year-old. It would be nice to talk to someone and find out why I'm going there and as to how it will benefit me, instead of someone saying, 'You are going down there,'" Anderson added. "If someone wants to come and tell me something, I can handle it. If I can handle hitting .225 in the big leagues, I can handle getting news that's not too great about me."
Part of the issue regarding Anderson staying state-side centers on a left wrist injury the young outfielder continues to rehab with an eye toward the 2008 season. He currently is working out in San Diego under the guidance of trainer Todd Durkin, who counts numerous pro football and baseball players such as the Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson as clients.
While Anderson feels as if he's "maxing out" physically during the offseason for the first time in his career and building up his athleticism instead of just getting stronger, he remains limited to numerous light swings in the batting cage. Simply put, the injury suffered at the plate during a July 6 contest for Triple-A Charlotte isn't completely stable enough for Anderson to compete.
Yet, by looking at Anderson's previous comments, there appears to be a level of animosity held toward the organization simmering below the surface. In regard to the mercurial Anderson, it's actually more a case of growing frustration and continued confusion as to where he fits into the White Sox future plans.
For example, Anderson hinted how the White Sox simply assigned him to a Winter League team in Mexico without letting him know. In reality, the White Sox had been in contact concerning the opportunity with Terry Bross, Anderson's agent, and Bross, in turn, had spoken with Anderson about playing for Mexicali.
"Yes, absolutely," said Bross, when asked if the White Sox discussed with him Anderson's winter possibility. "I told him the White Sox want him to go to Mexicali, and we have a place for him to play in the second half.
"We still don't know, with his wrist, if he's ready to be active in games. It feels better, but to say he's going or not going, it's premature."
Aside from the Winter League disagreement, Anderson points up a general lack of communication with the White Sox organization as an issue. Since his injury in early July, Anderson has spoken with the Minor League training staff in conjunction with his recovery but finds it somewhat strange that he hasn't spoken to higher-ups such as general manager Ken Williams or manager Ozzie Guillen.
"Since I haven't been around as a big league player for that long, I don't know how everything works," Anderson said. "But I have to assume when a guy is somewhat in a team's plans and gets hurt, and his season is over, I would assume someone in the organization, front office-wise, would check up on you and give you a rundown for what their plans are for you."
To Anderson's credit, he lays the seeds of this present frustration completely at his own feet. The 25-year-old readily acknowledges that he didn't handle his initial bout with athletic shortcomings to the best of his ability during a 2006 season first half in which he hit a miniscule .192 as the team's rookie starting center fielder, despite hitting .257 after the All-Star break.
Following those 17 at-bats in April this past season, Anderson was optioned to Charlotte and threw a "pity party," by his own admission. But Anderson eventually adjusted, knocking out eight hits in 17 at-bats during the four games prior to his season-ending injury.
"Honestly, I had to reach deep down motivation-wise," Anderson said. "It's not because I don't love the game, but once you are at the big league level, the whole sending down thing kind of crushes your ego. I realized it was not the first time anyone has done this and it won't be the last. I had to come to terms for myself."
"Brian really just wants a chance," Bross added. "His frustration has been, 'I had a bad half of a year [in 2006], so why can I not sniff the field?' He looks at other young players [throughout baseball] who went up and struggled, and the team kept throwing them out there."
So, where does Anderson currently fit in the team's overall plan, factoring in Josh Fields' emergence and talk of the White Sox looking for a veteran to take over in center field? When asked over the weekend, Williams stood in Anderson's corner and noted Anderson, along with other young prospects such as Ryan Sweeney, remained on his three-year board.
"He's still going to be a [heck] of a player. He just needs a good break, that's all," Williams said of Anderson. "As much as he might be frustrated, please understand that this frustration comes vs. the same people who have given you the opportunity, factoring him into the equation, and have not turned away."
Barring any unforeseen maneuvers, the month of November will begin the same way October ended for Anderson. He has a spot on the 40-man roster and hopes to succeed with the team who had the original confidence in him to trade away an important veteran such as Aaron Rowand.
Without a true Major League opportunity, this five-tool talent might be better served somewhere else at this stage of his career. And Anderson believes any team who has him quickly will reap the benefits.
"I'm 100 percent sure I will succeed again and have a long career and a successful one," Anderson said. "If it is in Chicago, then that would be awesome because it's a great thing being successful with the team who drafted you. But the majority of baseball players never stick with one team."
"I think they have to make a decision, at this point," added Bross of the White Sox. "He's their guy, getting a chance as an everyday player, or he's not their guy. If he's their guy, throw him out there and let him play. But that's OK if he's not their guy. It's a business. Kenny and Ozzie want to get back to the World Series, and I respect what they are doing."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.