CHICAGO (AP) - Tim Anderson is excited. The fast start with the Chicago White Sox is great and all, but it's more about who is waiting at home each day.
Anderson and his fiancee, Bria, welcomed their first child in March, and the young shortstop is smitten with the new arrival.
"She's a blessing. She's on my mind," Anderson said. "I put her initials in my hat, my helmet. It's life-changing."
Peyton provides perspective for Anderson when he has a bad day at the ballpark. But that hasn't happened very much lately.
Anderson's promotion from Triple-A Charlotte on June 10 helped spark a gradual recovery for the White Sox after they tumbled out of first in the AL Central. Struggling veteran Jimmy Rollins was cut loose to make room for Anderson, who quickly moved to the top of the lineup to give Chicago a speedy 1-2 punch with Adam Eaton.
Making his debut against World Series champion Kansas City, the 23-year-old Anderson doubled in his first at-bat and finished with two hits in Chicago's 7-5 win. He is batting .295 with four homers and 10 RBIs through his first month in the majors, with multihit performances in 12 of his first 25 games.
"You're talking about a kid that's come up here and really infused the lineup with a special talent," manager Robin Ventura said. "He's been great. He's been able to hit, his speed is something that's fun to watch. But a kid coming up and playing shortstop and doing it with his kind of confidence doesn't come across the board very often."
Anderson's versatility and instincts were on full display when the White Sox (44-41) took two of three from the Yankees for their fifth straight series win.
He hit a two-run homer in the series opener, and then made an excellent read on the bases that helped him score from second on Jose Abreu's single to left-center in the eighth inning of Chicago's 8-2 win on Monday. A day after he went 0 for 4 with a strikeout and committed his first error, he bounced back quickly with a key two-run double in a 5-0 victory on Wednesday night.
"I think defensively he's been great," Eaton said. "Offensively, he's learned on the fly quickly so it's been good to see. He's definitely a student of the game, a guy that comes in every day, wants to learn. He isn't afraid to ask questions so it's a beautiful thing. I've really enjoyed my time hitting behind him. He's made my job much easier in the two-hole, so no complaints here."
Ask Anderson about his smooth transition to the majors, and he practically shrugs.
"I feel a lot more comfortable than I did when I first got here," he said. "I was real nervous the first game, but after that, I feel like once I got my feet wet I was normal. I never let the situation get the best of me. I always just stay within myself and try not to do too much and just try to play my normal game."
Anderson, a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, attracted the attention of the major leagues when he starred as a sophomore at East Central Community College in Mississippi, batting .495 with 41 steals. He signed a letter of intent to play for UAB, but turned pro after he was selected by Chicago with the 17th pick in the 2013 draft.
Anderson quickly made his way through the minors, hitting .304 in 55 games with the Knights this year. He has one walk and 35 strikeouts since joining the White Sox, a concerning ratio for a leadoff hitter that he feels will improve with experience. Ventura is impressed with his eagerness to learn.
"There's questions that he has, and they're spot on," he said. "They're not just questions, he's asking a question so you think he's thinking about it, he's actually asking the right questions. I think that's not always the case when you get a guy that comes up that's as talented as he is. He's not afraid of anything. He's just going to play."
And after he's done for the day, it's home to see Peyton.
"Once I leave the locker room, I don't think about baseball or what kind of day I had," he said. "When I see her, I try to keep baseball life here and home life at home. It really helps me a lot because when I see her, I don't think about baseball."