Elvis Andrus has been here before, on the other side.
The 34-year-old infielder, in his 15th major-league season, came off the injured list this weekend facing the prospect of competing for the starting job he held when he was hurt.
While Andrus was away, 26-year-old Romy Gonzalez shook off a slow start and staked claim to the White Sox second-base job.
Is Andrus mad? No, just the opposite.
“That’s good, that’s baseball,” Andrus said before Saturday’s game against the Tigers. “I told [Gonzalez], ‘Don’t feel bad, man. I did the same thing when I was younger.’ ... I want all my teammates, even if we play the same position, to do the best. At the end, it’s all about winning.”
The Sox haven’t been winning as much as they, or their fans, expected. There have been a variety of issues, including a lack of offensive production by the team’s second basemen.
Gonzalez was slashing .139/.139/.194 in 21 games before heading to the IL with a right shoulder injury. But he’s turned it around since returning to action, slashing ..289/.307/.657 with three homers in 13 games.
Andrus loves to see it.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “I love Romy. Last year, he was playing second base for the majority of the month that I was here. Crazy talent, really powerful. ... I feel like he’s getting comfortable.
“We had a few talks last year [about] knowing who you are and what you can do in the big leagues every single day. And so far this year he’s been doing an amazing job.”
Andrus’ approach to what could be an awkward situation is no surprise to manager Pedro Grifol,
“He’s a team guy and he understands what this is all about,” Grifol said. “He’s been on winning teams before, and he’s probably the guy who has been on the other side — he comes in and takes some [at-bats] from whoever was there. ... He’s got a really good mind for this.”
Andrus has had his own challenges at the plate this year. Heading into Saturday’s game — his first appearance since going on the IL with a strained left oblique — he had a .201/.280/.254 line.
That type of injury, suffered while swinging the bat, was a new one for Andrus. As such, he was extra careful during his recovery.
“Those rehab games helped me a lot,” he said. “First few, I was very conscious of not trying to swing too hard or something, trying to manage it. But I feel the last two games, I was able to play without thinking about my oblique and that’s always a good sign.”
Now he’s back and trying to contribute for a team that, despite sitting well under .500, believes it can compete in an AL Central that lacks a dominant team.
“We’ve been talking about it, how much talent [we have[ and how good we are,” Andrus said. “But right now is the time to stop talking about it and do it on the field.”
Friday’s 3-0 win, which featured five shutout innings by Mike Clevinger in his own return from the IL, was a step in the right direction.
“[If] we can start being consistent on ... pitching and defense, hitting’s gonna come,” Andrus said.