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Tim Anderson doesn’t think the Chicago White Sox are too far from achieving their goals.
“We’ve got the pieces,” the All-Star shortstop said Thursday during a conference call. “It’s just a matter of it being our time. Right now wasn’t our time and we understand that. So we’ve just got to go back to the drawing board, come back again next year and hopefully it will be our time. And hopefully the guys will feel it and be a lot hungrier than the other team and understand the mission.”
The Sox were eliminated from the postseason Tuesday with a 10-1 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the best-of-five American League Division Series at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Anderson and José Abreu, two team leaders, reflected on the 2021 season and looked ahead to what’s next for the Sox, who won the AL Central for the first time since 2008 and made the postseason in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history.
“It was a very good season,” Abreu said through an interpreter Wednesday. “We tried to manage our expectations day by day, game by game. Of course the final outcome wasn’t the one that we all wanted. But I think we all did our best. At the end we faced a pretty good team with a lot of talent and they just were better than us.
“But I don’t think there is any room to say this was a bad season. I think it was a very good season. I’m just glad and happy with all the effort and all the work everybody put in to have the kind of season we had.”
Anderson stressed the positives of the season.
“We won the division; that didn’t happen last year,” he said. “We also brought two playoff games to Chicago; that didn’t happen last year. So it’s just a step to where we’re trying to get to, and we’ve just got to keep believing and trusting in that process and take it step by step.
“But overall, it was a huge step this year. We competed all season, through injuries, really through everything. And just for us to get to where we were, it says a lot about the ballclub and this organization.”
As for the postseason, Anderson and Abreu both gave credit to the Astros.
“You had two pretty good ballclubs going at it, and obviously, they were the better ballclub,” Andersons said. “They won the series. They put together more at-bats than we did, they came up with more clutch hits than we did. But I know we competed all the way to the end in that whole series. But they ended up the better team.”
Abreu pointed to the Astros’ postseason experience as a key.
“We were facing a team with a lot of experience in the postseason,” Abreu said. “They knew what they needed to do in order to win games, and they beat us that way.
“That’s something that you can’t replace. You need to have that experience to match up with other teams and to beat other teams during the postseason. It all comes back to experience.”
And he believes the Sox will grow from the back-to-back playoff appearances.
“Last two years we haven’t gotten the results that we were looking for,” Abreu said. “But we’ve been gaining that experience that is going to put us in a way better position for next year hopefully to get deeper into the postseason.
“This team has a lot of talent, a lot of young talent. That combination, that talent with experience we’ve been gaining the last two years during the postseason, it’s going to be a key factor for us moving forward.”
The players showed support for manager Tony La Russa, who indicated he’ll consult with management and players when he was asked about returning next season.
“I want him to be back,” Anderson said. “But at the end of the day, my decision doesn’t really matter. So I guess it all depends on what the front office thinks. But from my half, as far as speaking from a player’s standpoint, for sure. I definitely want him in. He did a great job with the way he managed and just being open.”
La Russa’s status is one of the more immediate questions facing the Sox in what will be another intriguing offseason.
“What we need to do in the offseason in order to get better next year, just keep working,” Abreu said. “I truly believe that we have to keep working and sooner rather than later if you work hard or harder now, the results are going to be there, the results we all want as an organization and as White Sox family members.
“A World Series title is going to be there, but we need to keep working and keep working hard.”