Ren­te­ria drop­ping Robert down in or­der, will re­in­state An­der­son at No. 1

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN dvan­schouwen@sun­ | @CST_­sox­van

White Sox man­ager Rick Ren­te­ria said short­stop Tim An­der­son will re­turn to the lead­off spot when he gets back from the in­jured list, prob­a­bly early next week, even though rookie Luis Robert has ex­celled there since An­der­son was side­lined with a strained groin.

And that’s more than OK with An­der­son, who likes bat­ting first.

“I get to start the party,” he said Thurs­day. “I get to set the tone.”

Ren­te­ria started dis­cus­sions about who should be the one to bat lead­off when he said Robert — who has taken base­ball by storm with a spec­tac­u­lar first cou­ple of weeks — will slot down lower.

“I still con­sider Timmy our lead­off guy,” Ren­te­ria said. “I look at the guy that’s had the ex­pe­ri­ence. Luis is do­ing it on sheer ta­lent. Some at-bats look very, very im­pres­sive, and some not as im­pres­sive. Over­whelm­ingly, his ta­lent is taking over.”

Ren­te­ria saw Robert’s ta­lent be­fore most of the world did, so he’s among the least sur­prised to see what Robert is do­ing — even as Robert struck out in his first three times up Thurs­day night against the Brewers. But Ren­te­ria knows he’s han­dling a piece of gold and will do ev­ery­thing he can to pol­ish it to per­fec­tion.

“You guys are mea­sur­ing it through the eyes of sheer ta­lent right now,” Ren­te­ria said. “I take ev­ery at-bat, I look at ev­ery swing and ev­ery ap­proach he takes to mea­sure where he’s at. There’s a cou­ple of at-bats where he walked away from that box kind of scratch­ing his head go­ing, ‘Man, what just hap­pened there?’ I know I’m not the only one who sees that. I think ev­ery­body sees that. But we also are amazed at what he’s done in other at-bats.”

An­der­son, who led the ma­jors with a .335 av­er­age last sea­son, was hit­ting .333/.355/.567 in seven games. Not bad.

Robert has led off five times, bat­ting .429/.520/.667 with a homer and three stolen bases. Even bet­ter.

“He’s still learn­ing. He’s still young,” Ren­te­ria said. “He’s re­act­ing. I want him to be an­tic­i­pa­tory. An an­tic­i­pa­tory player al­ways has an idea how he ap­proaches his at-bats, runs the bases, de­fends. Right now he’s re­act­ing — it’s pure skill he’s bring­ing to the ta­ble. I don’t want him to ever lose that pos­i­tive en­ergy he brings and that con­fi­dence he has. We just want to help him un­der­stand how to di­rect it in a more ef­fi­cient way.”

Robert bat­ted sixth one time and sev­enth five times be­fore mov­ing to lead­off. Ren­te­ria didn’t say where he might move him to, but it’s safe to say he’s set with Yoan Mon­cada sec­ond, Jose Abreu third and Yas­mani Gran­dal fourth.

“If that’s enough to give ev­ery­body some fod­der and con­ver­sa­tion and ques­tion why would I do that, well, [An­der­son is] a pretty good hit­ter,” Ren­te­ria said. “He’s done pretty well for us up there. Put it this way: I wouldn’t lose hav­ing one or the other up there.”

Lineup con­struc­tion is of­ten over­rated, and Ren­te­ria is right — it makes for good fod­der. As he gets An­der­son back, and with No­mar Mazara now play­ing right, Ren­te­ria can stack eight bats to­gether — or nine if Leury Gar­cia con­tin­ues to pro­duce. As they say, nice prob­lems to have.

“It def­i­nitely has been ex­cit­ing to watch,” An­der­son said. “They’ve been swing­ing the heck out of the bats. Def­i­nitely ex­cited to get back in the lineup.”

An­der­son said he had a full day of work Thurs­day and felt ready.

And when he’s back, let the lineup de­bates be­gin.

“That’s great,” Ren­te­ria said. “I love the fact that peo­ple are con­vers­ing about the Chicago White Sox in that man­ner be­cause that means we have sig­nif­i­cant pieces. We are very thank­ful to have the play­ers that we have right now that are giv­ing us a lot of po­ten­tial joy as we con­tinue to move for­ward.”



Tim An­der­son (above) is ea­ger to re­turn to the lead­off spot, even as Luis Robert (top) has han­dled him­self quite well there.

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