Anderson, White Sox 'dead serious' about winning World Series
"White Sox" and "World Series champion" are being used in the same sentence these days, for good reason.
The Sox are loaded with talent and enter the season tied with the Dodgers for most players (9) in MLB Network's Top 100.
Fresh Vegas odds are out and the White Sox are projected for 90½ wins this year. In the American League, only the Yankees (95½) rate higher.
COVID-19 still has media interaction limited to Zoom meetings, but the excitement coming out of spring training following Monday's first full-squad workout in Glendale, Ariz., was loud and clear.
"Everybody knows we are trying to win a World Series," star shortstop Tim Anderson said. "We have to continue to keep pushing and keep going. But just to see the guys we have in the clubhouse and see the guys we added, we are serious. We are dead serious.
"I couldn't be more proud to be right in the mix of it. I'm going to give everything I've got to try to deliver something that is really cool and really dope, something you can cherish for life."
Anderson ranks No. 27 on MLB Network's Top 100, followed by reigning MVP Jose Abreu (No. 31). The first baseman's not in camp yet but is expected to be on the field Wednesday after having additional COVID-19 antibody testing.
Yasmani Grandal (No. 49), Eloy Jimenez (No. 54), new closer Liam Hendriks (No. 58), Lucas Giolito (No. 69), new starter Lance Lynn (No. 75), Yoan Moncada (No. 90) and Luis Robert (No. 94) also made the cut, so you can see why expectations are running so high at Camelback Ranch.
"If last year we were good, this year we're going to be better," Jimenez said. "We have the confidence and I think we are good. To make the playoffs is the first goal and then after is go to the World Series. I think we can do it."
The White Sox made it to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years last season, but they cut ties with manager Rick Renteria after being eliminated on the first round.
Tony La Russa is the new manager, and he won three World Series before retiring in 2011.
Before the Sox took the field Monday, La Russa held a team meeting.
"He's a Hall of Famer," said Adam Eaton, who is back in right field for the White Sox. "I think right off the bat you get the HOF in front of your name, or behind your name or wherever you put it on the baseball, I think you definitely have the utmost respect. He's got more championships than I think all of us combined, I don't know. I want to do the math.
"He's a truly a man of baseball and when he's sitting in front of us this morning you could hear a pin drop. No one walked around, we were all standing up and all spread out in all different directions and you could see the tentativeness in everyone. Eyes just focused on him and what he had to say. His meeting was very blunt, to the point, didn't take much time and like I said, young guys, old guys alike, we're really excited to get things going because you can hear his excitement.
"He doesn't seem like he's that excited but you can definitely hear his excitement in his body language and in his voice. He's ready to go."
Before the Sox can even think about the World Series, or the playoffs for that matter, they have to deal with the Twins. Minnesota has finished first in the AL Central the last two seasons.
Let's turn it over to Anderson.
"I guess first, you look at the paper," the AL 2019 batting champion said. "We are way more athletic than them and that's just true facts. At the end of the day, we have to go out and prove it. We have to go out and be dominant. But we are going to face them just like any other day. They have the same guys over there.
"We are motivated and I'm sure they are motivated and we are going to go head-to-head and see what happens. We have a pretty good shot of whooping on them. That's what we are going to try to do with every team that comes in and every team we go to, try to win."