01/24/08 7:53 PM ET
Notes: Anderson's desires well known
Outfielder hopes for playing time, with White Sox or via trade
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
His desire to be traded doesn't deal directly as much with leaving the White Sox as it does with getting the best chance possible to play at the Major League level during the 2008 season. Anderson currently stands as a long shot to even make the Opening Day roster in Chicago.
But this is a different Anderson now talking one month away from the spring reporting date than the somewhat defiant individual who spoke to MLB.com at the beginning of the offseason. Not only does the 25-year-old come into the new year as prepared as he's ever been for Cactus League action, but if a trade doesn't take place in the next few weeks, he's more than ready to go to bat for the only team he has ever known since getting picked in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.
"I had a negative attitude and that chip wasn't getting me anywhere," Anderson told MLB.com earlier this week. "The thing is, I have to be mature about it.
"I'm employed by the White Sox, so I have to go out and try and compete. If that's not good enough for them, there are how many other teams out there? Trades are always possibilities."
If strong defense stood out as the primary criteria to fill the White Sox final starting outfield slot alongside Jermaine Dye and Nick Swisher, then Anderson would be the clubhouse leader instead of the fourth or fifth alternative. It has been Anderson's offense that defines his Major League struggles, posting a .216 career average and a .279 on-base percentage.
Anderson rightfully points out how he only has 416 career at-bats and it's tough to make a complete value judgment during such a limited body of work. Nonetheless, Anderson has taken proactive strides to give his game on offense an equal chance to meet his lofty defensive skills.
Whether it's playing for the White Sox or enticing another team's interest, Anderson simply focuses on what he's able to control and not complaining about what might have been.
"Really, I blame myself because it took me however long to get this wakeup call," said Anderson, who has yet to face live pitching, but said he's swinging pain-free in regard to a left-wrist injury that ended his 2007 season on July 6. "I'm in the best shape of my life and I have confidence in my hitting.
"When I would go to Spring Training in the past, I knew [hitting coach Greg] Walker was there and hoped he had something up his sleeve for me. Now, I feel set with my swing, aside from making some small adjustments.
"Not knowing is the most frustrating part," added Anderson, concerning his tenuous status. "I've told myself this whole offseason I want to play in the big leagues in center field, but I still work for the White Sox and have to get myself ready."
Foreign talent: The White Sox have increased their search for undiscovered players in the Dominican Republic by opening their own baseball academy about one week ago. The White Sox facilities, located in Boca Chica, are housed in the same Complejo Latinoamericano de Beisbol compound as setups for the Cubs, Twins, Reds, Diamondbacks and soon-to-be Orioles. But each team has its own fields, batting cages and dorms, operating independently.
Rafael Santana serves as the team's Dominican Republic Academy Coordinator and former Major League outfielder Sammy Mejia serves as the organization's Dominican Summer League Field Coordinator.
"We are really excited about it," said White Sox Minor League director Alan Regier of the team's new Dominican Academy. "We are devoting serious money in scouting to get guys at 16 or 21 who can be special."
This commitment already has paid dividends for the White Sox in the form of 16-year-old shortstop Juan Silverio, who participated in the team's instructional league and will be part of Minor League Spring Training. According to Regier, the White Sox don't want to rush Silverio and most likely will start him in the Dominican Summer League.
Rival awareness: Curtis Granderson made a stop in the Chicago area this past weekend to visit family, help out during a baseball clinic at South Suburban College and receive an award last Sunday night from the Pitch & Hit Club of Chicago.
In an ironic twist, the Detroit superstar also had to talk down a few distraught White Sox supporters who already had given the American League Central to the Tigers while mingling at the dinner in Rosemont.
"Fans are coming up to me and saying, 'Our team is done' and 'We are going to lose out to you guys,'" Granderson said. "But the only thing I can say is look at 2006 for us. We went from 2004 and 2005, where we were not too good, and boom, in one day you can turn it around.
"It all can happen in a blink of an eye," Granderson added.
Granderson was surprised by the offensive struggles for the 72-90 White Sox from 2007, but he believes the proven veteran hitters will bounce back and perform as they have previously.
"[Nick] Swisher in there also mixes things up a little," Granderson said.
Strength in numbers: Greater balance throughout the White Sox lineup and pitching staff seems to be one of the main factors currently instilling confidence in general manager Ken Williams for his team in 2008.
"We have the most balance in the division," Williams said. "We are facing some stiff competition, but if you look player to player, position by position, we stack up against anyone in the division. We just think we are positioned to battle for 162 ballgames with what we have and come out as division winner.
"Anointing a division winner in January ... this is baseball and you would be mistaken. We were anointed to repeat in 2006 and you see where that got us."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.