Why Elvis Andrus believes in the 2023 White Sox

Why Elvis Andrus believes in the 2023 White Sox originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

GLENDALE, AZ – Even though he didn’t sign back with the White Sox until the day before position players reported to spring training on February 20, Elvis Andrus has a lot to say about the White Sox struggles last season and why they should be a team to be reckoned with in 2023.

But first, let’s get last year out of the way.

After Tim Anderson went down with what turned out to be a season-ending hand injury, the White Sox signed Andrus in August to replace him.  He parachuted in and played like an All-Star for 43 games.  But even his late-season heroics couldn’t save them.

What happened?  What was missing?

“One thing that I saw for sure was, the team wasn’t as united as it should be, especially in September.  I feel like you need to be at that point, everyone pulling from the same direction,”  Andrus said in an interview on the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Andrus’ only blunder last season was providing some fuel to the Cleveland Guardians clubhouse when he told reporters in mid-September, “(The Guardians) have been playing perfect up until now.  If we keep winning series, we know they’re going to crumble the closer we get.”

The Guardians put that comment on their bulletin board and boat raced the White Sox and everyone else after that and won the division.

Andrus laughs about it now, but he doesn’t regret what he said.

“It wasn’t to disrespect anyone. It was more to fire people up.”

Unfortunately, it fired up the wrong clubhouse.

“It was big-time misinterpreted.  It’s okay.  I even heard it from players on their team.  I don’t care.   I’m with the White Sox right now.  I don’t care what other teams think.  That’s who I am.  I’m very loyal to my team.  I don’t care about talking trash to other teams because I believe in what we have here,” Andrus said.  “The Guardians got hot at the right moment.  They have young guys.  They challenged themselves.  They took it the right way and pretty much beat us and the whole division in that week.

“We didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs.  That’s the way baseball goes.  It’s hard to explain.  They just played better baseball than us.”

A free agent after 14 years in the big leagues, Andrus was hoping for more lucrative offers to play shortstop, but they never came.  Instead, the 34-year-old signed a one-year, $3 million contract to return to the White Sox where he’ll play second base for the first time in his career.

“I knew at some point I was going to have to move (to second base).  I was trying to play another year at short.  That was the goal,”  Andrus said.

“When I saw the opportunity for me to move to second I didn’t hesitate.   As long as I’m in the lineup, I don’t care.  I want to play every single day, help the team to win, make it to the postseason and win it all for sure.”

How do the White Sox go from 81-81 to World Series contenders?

Andrus sees the answer when he looks around the clubhouse.

“There’s a lot of guys, without saying everybody, that have a chip on their shoulder.  I think there are a lot of guys that know they have to prove it this year.  Guys are going to free agency, there are a lot of guys who want awards, so I feel like this year is such a unique year because when you have all those components, situations and careers for players, you know you’re going to get the best of a lot of guys on this team and it’s a beautiful mix.”

The young nucleus of Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada showed max potential when they first arrived in the majors.  The White Sox signed all of them to long term extensions, believing the best was yet to come.  But so far, all three have not been able to live up to the expectations of those contracts, either because of injuries, underperformance or both.

“The younger guys, they know that they need to prove their worth. They’re here for a reason.  Being a prospect and all of that is cool, but it gets to a point where it’s like, ‘Okay, I got to put up some numbers out there if I want to keep playing,”  Andrus said.

Leadership has been a popular topic lately with the White Sox.  Andrus, a respected veteran with a loud voice, filled a void in the clubhouse when he arrived last season.

“For me, I’m very vocal.  I’m trash-talking.  I get everyone pumped up and bring the energy.  At the same time, at this point in my career I want to show by example. I want to go play hard, play everyday and do whatever I can to win the game,”  he explained. “Right now, in baseball you’re kind of lacking that. We need to get that part of baseball back.  You breathe, you feel the game.  You give everything you have every single day, no matter if you’re hurt you still show up and play.  That’s what I bring.”

The team lost Jose Abreu, who led more with his bat and worth ethic, less with his words.

Andrus isn’t afraid to say what needs to be said, even if a teammate isn’t going to like it.

“Oh, for sure.  I’m very honest.  If I see something wrong, I’m not the type of person who’s going to yell, show them up, because I hated that when I was younger, but I’ll pull them aside and have a conversation.  Sometimes not even telling them what to do, but asking the reason why they did it.   When I’ve done it that way, they make their own answers.  I think that’s how they learn when you actually realize what you did wasn’t good or wasn’t a good cultural thing or positive for the team.  I think that’s how you learn the most when you’re young and someone is telling you what to do.”

“I told them, I’m not a babysitter.  You know what you’re supposed to do.  You know how to prepare yourself.  You know how to get ready for the game.  Respect the jersey, respect your family, let’s go and be brothers and go to war together.  That’s what it is for me.”

In 2021, the White Sox played with an edge, especially at home where they went 53-28, best in the American League.  Last season, teams consistently rolled into town and waxed the White Sox.  They went 37-44 in front of their hometown fans.

How does this year’s team fix that?

“One of the biggest things is culture.  With culture comes pride,”  Andrus explained.  “Back in the day and a few years ago, when you faced the White Sox they had a lot of pride.  It was a really tough environment to go to Chicago and win a game.  I think we need to get back to that.  I think the guys know they need to get back to that.  I’m here.  I love to win.  I don’t care who I’m playing for.  I’ll kill for my team.”

If you believe the preseason computer projections or what’s being said on social media (White Sox Twitter has been…how do I say this?  In flames), then you’re probably bracing for another rough season on the South Side.

Andrus understands the skepticism that exists outside Camelback Ranch.

It’s up to them as a team to change everybody’s mind with how they play this season.

“We know how talented we are.  The whole league knows how talented we are.  They just don’t think that we’re going to figure out how to put it together.  That’s good if they think that way.  That just gives us a lot more space to run away,”  Andrus said. “I think if we just prepare, concentrate and compete to be the best throughout the whole season knowing that we’re going to have ups and downs.  That’s normal.  As long as we give everything we’ve got, there’s too much talent in here not to win.”

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