Tim Anderson and the Chicago White Sox are focused on keeping their foot on the gas — even after they clinch the division: ‘We’ve got to stay hungry’

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Tim Anderson was originally scheduled to have Friday off as part of the Chicago White Sox plan to play him for one game and rest him in the next after his return from the injured list.

Anderson had other ideas, and the All-Star shortstop found a way to be in the lineup on back-to-back days.

How did he persuade manager Tony La Russa to make the move?

“Just go in and tell him,” Anderson said Sunday with a laugh. “Don’t ask, just tell him.”

Anderson was in the lineup Monday for the series opener against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, marking another back-to-back situation after he went 2-for-5 with a run in Sunday’s 7-2 victory against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field.

He said he “feels good” since returning from a left hamstring strain Sept. 14.

“It definitely was important for me to play back-to-back nights,” Anderson said. “I kind of hammered (La Russa) a little bit so I could play. Just trying to stick to the plan, sometimes I get frustrated, but I’m here to bring whatever I have for the team.

“So we’ve just got to continue to keep pushing, man. Continue to keep staying in that training room, continue to stay healthy and just take it a day at a time. I’ll be all right.”

Anderson slashed .278/.316/.333 in his first four games back. He went 5-for-18 with a double and four runs.

He tested the hamstring during an impressive dash and slide at the plate in the fourth inning Sunday, avoiding a tag to score on a single by José Abreu.

“As I turned, I was able to pick up the throw (by right fielder Adolis García),” Anderson said. “And I just knew which lane the catcher was going to take, so I took the other one. And I was able to stay away from him.”

Those are the instincts the Sox gain when Anderson is in the lineup.

He’s working on getting his rhythm offensively and defensively. Sunday, he was out early taking extra ground balls, “just trying to get that feel back.”

“The timing and everything is coming back,” Anderson said. “Haven’t played for like two weeks, so my timing was off a little bit. ... Overall I felt fine.”

Anderson is helping the Sox take another step toward their first division title since 2008. The magic number to clinch stood at three after the Cleveland Indians lost the first game of a doubleheader Monday against the Kansas City Royals.

As the team inches closer to clinching, it’s also keeping in mind maintaining momentum.

“Last year we kind of made the mistake of letting off the gas a little bit toward the end, especially after we clinched (a playoff berth),” Sox starter Lucas Giolito said. “And so I think that we learned from that mistake.

“Having that energy every single game, everybody in the game watching, paying attention, picking things out, that’s right where we need to be for every single game. It doesn’t matter the opponent, it doesn’t matter the series score, it doesn’t matter home (or) road.”

Anderson agrees.

“Clinching is just really getting in,” Anderson said. “That’s when it really starts. But we just take it a day at a time, continue to try to get wins.

“We know we’re going to clinch, we understand that. Not too far away from it. But we’ve got to continue to stay hungry heading toward October, and that’s when the real ball starts.”

Adam Engel on the verge of returning

Outfielder Adam Engel joined the Sox in Detroit with the expectation he’ll be reinstated from the injured list Tuesday, La Russa said before Monday’s game.

Engel has been on the IL since Aug. 13 with left shoulder inflammation. He is slashing .248/.339/.505 with six doubles, seven home runs, 18 RBIs and 19 runs in 33 games.

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