Evolved TA greets Adam Eaton upon outfielder's Sox return originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Adam Eaton was with the White Sox when Tim Anderson reached the major leagues in 2016.
He saw him. He played with him. But he didn't hear much from him.
Fast forward nearly five years, and Eaton's hearing from Anderson a lot more.
"I was with him the whole day," Eaton said of Anderson on the first day of full-squad workouts at Camelback Ranch. "I heard him talk more in the two and a half hours we were outside than I had the month or two months that I had with him in '16."
Eaton's back with the White Sox after four seasons with the Washington Nationals. The White Sox dealt him away after the 2016 season to help kickstart their rebuilding project, and Eaton won a World Series ring with the Nationals in 2019.
There's a lot that's changed since Eaton left following the infamously dysfunctional 2016 campaign. Among the more noticeable changes, though, has to be Anderson's evolution from a typically timid rookie to the face of the franchise and one of the faces of the game of baseball, in general.
"It's awesome," Eaton said. "To see TA in '16 ... he was really quiet then and was just trying to find his own. And now he is a premier shortstop. He's an unbelievable player, unbelievable guy. And then to be able to have conversations with him when he's a little more open and up front than he was as a rookie, it's really cool to see him and his personality.
"To see him from the other side, just seeing how he's progressed as a ballplayer, it's truly impressive how he's matured at the shortstop position, as well as with the bat. So I can't wait to be on this team and be able to see it every day."
Back in 2016, Eaton was part of the veteran group in the White Sox clubhouse, one of the guys who drew nightly media attention.
Now, though, it's Anderson who's giving daily media briefings, a part of the leadership group for a White Sox team eyeing a World Series run in 2021 like the one Eaton's Nationals made two years ago.
Five years ago, Eaton was described as a spark plug for the White Sox lineup. Now it's Anderson driving the bus as an MVP candidate.
"When deciding to come back, yeah, he definitely comes to my mind," Eaton said. "I think he's the face of the organization, if not one of the top three faces, I don't want to slight anybody else. But he really makes the team turn, so to speak, in the clubhouse and on the field, being the shortstop.
"Having that defined shortstop voice in the clubhouse, voice in the city of Chicago. You want that sturdiness to the ballclub."
Anyone who's followed Anderson's evolution during the course of his major league career knows his personal growth has been just as significant as his growth on the field. From .240 hitter to batting champion is one thing. From quiet kid to outspoken advocate is another.
The White Sox benefit from both aspects, which Eaton has been quick to notice.
Of course, Anderson, in one of his swagger-packed joking moods during his first media session of the spring Monday, doesn't need to be reminded of all that's gone down since Eaton left.
And he doesn't think Eaton — or anyone else — needs to be, either.
"I know he’s been watching," he said. "Everybody has been watching."