An­der­son ea­ger to in­spire

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN, STAFF RE­PORTER dvan­schouwen@sun­times.com @CST_­sox­van

As the White Sox’ only African Amer­i­can player, Tim An­der­son felt hon­ored to step on the field Sun­day.

“The num­bers are go­ing down,” he said of the num­ber of Black play­ers oc­cu­py­ing places on ma­jor-league ros­ters — 7.8%. “But it’s such a bless­ing to still be one that is still around and bring­ing a lot of ex­cite­ment and en­ergy to the game. Those guys paved the way for guys like me.”

“Those guys” are the play­ers from the Ne­gro Leagues, which cel­e­brated the 100-year an­niver­sary of their found­ing Sun­day.

“Me be­ing the only Black guy on the South Side, it’s only right I con­tinue to keep go­ing and keep mo­ti­vat­ing and keep in­spir­ing kids all around the world to get into the game of base­ball,” An­der­son said.

An­der­son, a bas­ket­ball stand­out from Alabama who found base­ball later in his youth, doesn’t hide his view that base­ball isn’t as ex­cit­ing as some other sports. He has done his part to liven it up, demon­strat­ing en­ergy on the field, in the dugout and, most no­tably, in the bat­ter’s box af­ter some of his home runs with bat flips.

“Just be­ing hon­est. With all re­spect, the game is bor­ing,” said An­der­son, who led the ma­jors with a .335 av­er­age last sea­son and is bat­ting .333 this year af­ter go­ing 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored in the Sox’ 7-2 vic­tory. “There isn’t a lot of ex­cite­ment, and the game is moving to show more guys and show more per­son­al­ity. I like the way it’s go­ing, but I al­ways just do me. I stay in my lane and strive to get bet­ter and also just con­tinue to grow as my­self and learn as much as I can.”

Play­ers, man­agers, coaches and umpires wore sym­bolic Ne­gro Leagues 100th an­niver­sary logo patches. The Sox re­mem­bered iconic Ne­gro Lea­guers, in­clud­ing Andrew “Rube” Fos­ter, Min­nie Miñoso, Ted “Dou­ble Duty” Rad­cliffe and Jackie Robin­son, dis­play­ing com­mem­o­ra­tive cutouts near their dugout.

An­der­son was right to say the num­bers have de­clined dur­ing his life­time, but they did in­crease from 68 to 80 on Open­ing Day ros­ters this sea­son. He’d like to see more African Amer­i­cans play his game, but “the game is ex­pen­sive when you are younger,” he said.

“The game is ex­pen­sive to get in, and it re­quires a lot from par­ents and from kids to con­tinue to fol­low their dreams in this sport.”

Keuchel’s visit from trainer

Dal­las Keuchel pitched 5‰ in­nings of two-run ball, both runs scor­ing in the sixth in­ning af­ter he said his back tight­ened up dur­ing the Sox’ fifth in­ning, when they bat­ted around. Man­ager Rick Rente­ria and trainer James Kruk came out to check on him dur­ing the sixth, but Keuchel stayed in be­fore be­ing re­placed by Jimmy Cordero af­ter al­low­ing a two-run sin­gle to Matt Car­pen­ter.

“Just was a lit­tle tight,” Keuchel said. “We scored a bunch of runs and I was try­ing to loosen up in be­tween, just didn’t get to the point I wanted to. Not re­ally con­cerned about it.”

Fos­ter, again

Rente­ria went to Matt Fos­ter to pro­tect a 7-2 lead in the eighth, us­ing him on con­sec­u­tive days for the first time, and the right-han­der ex­tend­ing his score­less streak to 10‰ in­nings to open his ca­reer, al­though Paul Gold­schmidt sin­gled and Car­pen­ter flied out to cen­ter fielder Luis Robert at the wall. It was the first time in seven ap­pear­ances Fos­ter did not record a strike­out.

QUINN HAR­RIS/GETTY IMAGES

Tim An­der­son steals sec­ond base ahead of Kolten Wong’s tag in the first in­ning Sun­day.

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