Tim Anderson is back and ready to energize the White Sox

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It's pretty clear these second-half White Sox could use a jolt back to life.

Not that the South Siders were running away with anything before the All-Star break. But on the other side of the Midsummer Classic, things have not gone at all well, and at this precise moment, this team looks more like the one that lost 195 games during the 2017 and 2018 seasons than the one that filled the first half with positives and seemed capable of achieving contender status in 2020. They dropped all but four of their first 17 games of the second half, and since the All-Star break, the White Sox rank last in baseball with three runs per game, 37 extra-base hits, 14 home runs and a .351 team slugging percentage.

But reinforcements have arrived. Eloy Jimenez came off the injured list Sunday against the Minnesota Twins, and Tim Anderson returned Tuesday for the start of a three-game set with the visiting New York Mets.

Now, just because Jimenez and Anderson have returned to the lineup doesn't mean the offensive production should necessarily begin to skyrocket. They might not be able to drag James McCann and Jose Abreu out of their second-half slumps through their mere presence.

But Anderson's return, in particular, means more than just whether he can pick up where he left off before suffering that high ankle sprain against the Boston Red Sox more than a month ago.

"Just being able to bring that energy to the ballclub," Anderson said of what he hopes to accomplish upon his return to action. "Hearing from some the guys that they missed me, I'm excited to be back and ready to get back with the guys and keep competing at a high level.

"Energy, the energy. That's something that allows me to be myself. I'm just ready to keep competing and go out and see what happens tonight."

Anderson's breakout campaign came to a screeching halt when he sprained that ankle on the rain-soaked dirt at Fenway Park, and it won't be shocking if it takes him a while to get back to level of play that produced a .317/.342/.491 slash line in his first 70 games of the season. But what Anderson can do right away is energize this team that's been scuffling for weeks now. He can make highlight-reel plays in the field. He can make exciting plays on the base paths.

It wouldn't be surprising to see some fist pumps and hear "let's go" more than once in Anderson's first few days back, either.

"You’re looking at a guy who has put himself on the map with everyone," manager Rick Renteria said before Tuesday's game. "He’s an elite shortstop and his defense speaks for itself in terms of how he’s grown out there, and offensively he’s grown so much.

"Having those guys in the lineup picks us up. Everyone else has done an admirable job out there trying to keep us moving along, but when you miss two key pieces like that it helps to get them back.

"All these guys trust each other so much and have been playing alongside each other for a few years now, getting comfortable with each other, having them in there again. (Yoan Moncada) can look to his left and see Timmy is there. (Yolmer Sanchez) can look over there and Timmy is there. Everybody else sees what he brings to the table. You feel a little more comfortable."

All of that seems much needed for this team right now, and they'll get it with Anderson back in the lineup. No one should expect him to single-handedly drag the White Sox out of their second-half tailspin. But his clubhouse and on-field presence that's been discussed so often in 2019 is real, and it should have an effect of some kind now that he's back from the injured list.

Let the energizing begin.

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