CHICAGO – Was he keeping his eyes glued to his phone for updates on free agency?
Not exactly, but it’s safe to say Tim Anderson was interested.
The shortstop would notice when the White Sox would make an addition to their team, and with each signing, his own interest perked up.
“When we added (Yasmani) Grandal and (Dallas) Keuchel I was like ‘Alright’. Then when we got Edwin (Encarnacion) I’m like ‘OK,'” said Anderson. “Then I started locking in and looking at it and I’m like ‘OK, what’s next.’ It was exciting. It was exciting definitely that and it shows you how serious we are.”
More importantly, it showed the fans. They’ve been waiting over three years for anything to root for in the rebuild, and now finally it looks like they’ll have a team worthy of their incredible patience.
The acquisitions of those players mentioned, along with the young core of athletes that are already in place, and the expected call-ups of Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, have the expectations skyrocketing for the team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 2008 season. That energy could be felt at a sold-out Sox Fest at McCormick Place West this past weekend, where fans jammed the event before a much-anticipated 2020 season that begins this spring.
“We added some new pieces – some good pieces – so, yeah, the energy is different,” said Anderson. “Everybody is ready to win.”
Manager Rick Renteria is included in that group, and he said that if this White Sox team didn’t make the playoffs that it would be a disappointment to him. It’s a bold expectation for the group that won just 72 games in 2019 and were in the 60s the previous two seasons when Renteria was just starting the team’s rebuilding of the franchise.
Yet players don’t mind this added pressure as they approach 2020. They’ve seen what they had in place before, the amount those young players have to grow, and how the new additions could spark a quick turnaround along with a much-anticipated return to the postseason.
“I think, with the team we have, if we don’t make the playoffs, we’re going to be disappointed,” said outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who will play a big part in making those goals come true for the club.
Rick Hahn tried to downplay the thought that the team accomplished something already with the strong offseason, stressing that success only comes with a “parade down Michigan Avenue.” Indeed it’s a long journey towards the White Sox goal since spring training in February starts at least a seventh-month journey towards the top of the American League.
“We have playoff expectations, yes, and we have all these expectations,” said pitcher Dylan Cease. “But you’ve got to lay down the foundation and take it day-by-day first.”
Yet there’s nothing wrong with a little excitement and anticipation for a franchise that’s been waiting for it most of the last decade.