"Blessed to be in this position": Chicago White Sox SS Tim Anderson in the race for the All-Star start

The Chicago White Sox haven’t had a starting shortstop in the All-Star Game since Luis Aparicio in 1970.

Tim Anderson is racing to update that list.

Anderson and Bo Bichette of the Toronto Blue Jays are the finalists to start at shortstop in the American League for this year’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Anderson had a 55% to 45% lead after Thursday’s voting update, according to MLB.com.

“Definitely a blessing,” Anderson said before Thursday’s series opener against the Detroit Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field. “We understand that it is a routine. And just to see, from the moment I jumped into this organization, to see where I am now, it’s been great.

“I have been grateful, I have been blessed to be in this position. And to lead the initial (vote), it’s great, it’s great. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of people who would want to be in that position, and for me, I take nothing for granted. I will always be grateful and will definitely cherish the moment if it happens.”

Vote available on MLB.com ends at 1 pm and results will be announced at 6 pm on ESPN.

Anderson thanked the fans for their support.

“It definitely says a lot that they’re paying attention to what’s really going on,” Anderson said. “Just that they thought of me and voted for me, I’m definitely grateful for that. I appreciate you and thank you for supporting and voting.”

Anderson earned his first All-Star selection as a reserve last season. He was one of four Sox on the AL roster at the game at Coors Field in Denver. Anderson entered at shortstop in the eighth and was in the on-deck circle in the top of the ninth when the final out of the inning was recorded.

“To finally get the first one, I have to keep working year after year,” Anderson said Saturday in San Francisco. “But it was definitely a blessing and it was definitely a dream come true as well. Another great achievement.”

The pitchers and reserves, added through a combination of player ticket elections and selections from the Commissioner’s office, will be announced Sunday at 4:30 pm on ESPN.

Dylan Cease, who started Thursday, is among the pitchers who could represent the Sox. He went 7-3 with a 2.51 ERA in his first 16 starts. Cease is third in the majors with 125 strikeouts.

Despite a recent cold streak, slashing .167/.216/.188 (8-for-48) with an extra-base hit in his last 11 games before Thursday, Anderson would still be sixth in the AL in batting average (.314). if he had the requisite plate appearances.

His 10 three-hit games rank second in the majors behind Xander Bogaerts (11) of the Boston Red Sox.

“It just keeps working,” Anderson said of his approach. “You understand that it is a long season, but you have to work hard and keep learning, keep growing. I’m just at a point where you’re still learning to identify yourself. Just keep trying, that’s all you can do.

“The days are not going to stop, everything is going to continue. All you can do is grab it and keep pushing.”

The Sox are trying to make a push in the AL Central. They began Thursday in third place in the division, 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins.

The Sox got a boost Wednesday when Eloy Jimenez returned from the disabled list. The left fielder hit a two-run homer and an RBI single, helping the Sox beat the Twins 9-8 in 10 innings. It was his first match since April 23, when he suffered a torn right hamstring.

“It’s good to get your energy back,” Anderson said. “He hit the bat very well. I hope I can move on. But it is good to bring more energy and recover it. I’m excited for him. Hopefully we can keep pushing and keep having fun and turn things around.

“(He) brings another personality. We would like more wins with more fun. But we understand the process and we understand the routine. We just have to stay the course and keep working and try to improve.”

Catcher Yasmani Grandal began an injury rehab assignment with Double-A Birmingham on Thursday, serving as designated hitter against Tennessee.

Grandal has been on the DL retroactive to June 12 with lower back spasms.

“He’s an amazing guy,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said Thursday. “Last year (when he wasted time with a torn left knee tendon) and this year when it went down, you think down and out. But she was down but not out.

“Every day that guy’s dedication to the craft is impressive. He is preparing the body for him, but mentally there are no days off”.

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