Anderson eager to seize second chance with White Sox

Former first-round pick signs Minor League contract with club that drafted him

Anderson eager to seize second chance with White Sox

CHICAGO -- Brian Anderson is guaranteed nothing by the Minor League deal that was agreed upon with the White Sox on Wednesday. Not a spot on the team's 40-man roster. Not an invite to big league Spring Training. Not even a job with Triple-A Charlotte after Minor League camp is complete.

Yet the 32-year-old is simply thrilled to be wearing a White Sox uniform once again and already is primed for Spring Training Minor League minicamp at Camelback Ranch.

"I'm more excited to sign right now than I was when I got drafted in the first round," Anderson told MLB.com by phone Wednesday. "Imagine how excited I am."

"After telling him yesterday, he was so excited it was like his first professional contract," said White Sox director of player development Nick Capra of Anderson.

This particular Minor League deal has a couple of twists, making it a bit more noteworthy than most. Anderson became the White Sox top pick (15th overall) in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft and then became their starting center fielder moving into the post-World Series championship 2006 season when Aaron Rowand was traded to the Phillies as part of the Jim Thome deal.

Anderson fell well short of where his talent projected him, with the .227 career hitter eventually moving from outfielder to pitcher in the Minors with Kansas City. He hasn't played in a big league outfield since 2009 with Boston, and hasn't been part of affiliated baseball since working off the mound in the Yankees' system in 2011.

Now Anderson has returned to the outfield, where he always could catch the baseball as well as anyone. He feels in a better position, both offensively and maturity-wise, after admittedly not handling the Major League experience as well as he could have the first time around.

Capra noticed while watching an Anderson workout that the always-lively player has more respect for where he has been and where he is now.

"He seems like a different person," Capra said.

"There's no doubt I made mistakes. I own them. I was immature and my focus was never really there," Anderson said. "To get my foot in the door is such a weight lifted off of my shoulder. It's nice to know all the hard work and countless swings and getting back in shape paid off."

For the past two years, Anderson has been pushing for this opportunity. He singled out his cousin, Shane Reynolds, and friend, John Powers, among the many helping him navigate this comeback trail. The White Sox received a great deal of praise as well.

They believed enough to provide this ground-floor chance. Anderson feels poised to make the most of wearing the White Sox uniform once again.

"In my mind, I have to have that mentality," Anderson said of believing he eventually can reach the Majors. "But I'm going to take it one step at a time.

"All I can hope for in Spring Training is go out and work hard and be a positive influence any way possible. It's a long road back, but the first step is signing, and I'm extremely grateful for the White Sox to give me this opportunity."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.