MINNEAPOLIS — It goes without saying the White Sox need Luis Robert and Tim Anderson healthy and on the field next season.
Plenty has to change, and it will, perhaps in the managerial seat and maybe on the coaching staff and certainly in their roster construction as the Sox attempt to fix what went terribly wrong in 2022. But they need their top stars at premium positions of shortstop and center field playing more games.
“Robert is one of the horses on this team; when he goes, we go,” acting manager Miguel Cairo said Wednesday. “He and TA, one of the other horses. When those two go, the rest of the team goes. We miss them both but that’s part of the game, you get injuries. But hopefully they will come next season ready to be part of something.”
He gave in to the pain in his left wrist and called it a season after a lengthy battle to play through it. Anderson, who had surgery on the middle finger of his left hand, was planning on playing the last two weeks and in a postseason that was supposed to come but didn’t, but shut it down when it became apparent there would be no such thing.
In hindsight, Robert regrets not going on the injured list. Hitting coach Frank Menechino warned early on that playing hurt would affect his swing, and Robert says it did.
“It was the best decision we could make, especially after you saw how I tried to help the team during those games,” Robert said through translator Billy Russo. “I tried and the team realized that even with my best effort, it wasn’t enough to help them in a good way.
Robert played in 97 games, Anderson in 79, poster guys for a season fraught with injuries. Robert was viewed by some as a preseason Most Valuable Player candidate. Anderson made the AL All-Star team for the second season in a row.
Robert said he tried to push through because the team was making a push for the postseason. He has already dealt with a minor groin strain, blurred vision and COVID-19.
“I asked them to let me try to play,” Robert said. “I also think it was my mistake because I didn’t realize at that moment that trying to do that, I wasn’t helping them.
“Throughout that process, I was making some bad habits.”
Robert had three specialists examine the wrist and will have it looked at it by another in two weeks he said.
“Depending on the results of that checkup, then they will let me know what we are going to do,” he said.
In any event, coming to spring training in the best possible shape is the key to staying as healthy as possible during the season, Cairo said.
“In the offseason, that’s when you get ready to go into spring training and to be ready to play for six months and sometimes seven, because that’s the goal, to play seven months, all the way to the World Series,” Cairo said. “But everything starts in the offseason. Everything. This offseason was tough because of the lockout.”
Robert chalks up a portion of the Sox woes to “inconsistent” play, injuries and some bad hitters’ luck on balls in play in key moments.
“The things that we can control is how we prepare, how we go out there and approach the game,” Robert said. “More often than not we did a good job. We have to keep doing it next year, try to do our best, and that’s the only thing that we can control.”