By Jay Cohen
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO — Tim Anderson and Branden Moss became close friends when they were just teenagers, and the connection only grew over time. Anderson is the godfather of Moss’ daughter. Same for Moss and Anderson’s little girl.
The pair shares a distinct bond, and now Anderson is playing for Moss after he was shot and killed last weekend. He has a reminder of Moss inscribed on his hat with the Chicago White Sox. It’s all he can do right now.
“He was a special part of my life,” Anderson said before Wednesday night’s game against Minnesota was rained out. “He’s someone that I looked up to. He would tell me that he looked up to me, but it’s more so I looked up to him. We made each other better.”
Moss, 23, was slain early Sunday morning after he helped a man who was assaulted outside a bar in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, authorities told AL.com. Moss was talking to one of the men involved in the altercation when another man who was not involved in the fight came up from behind and shot him several times, Capt. Gary Hood with the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit said.
Moss ran about 75 feet before collapsing. A suspect was arrested later that morning.
Anderson broke down when he found out what happened.
“Just tears, hurt bad,” he said. “It was tough, just to think about the last conversation and text we had, it was real tough.”
Manager Rick Renteria kept Anderson out of the lineup for Sunday’s 4-0 loss at Baltimore. He returned Tuesday and went 1 for 4 in a 7-2 loss to the Twins.
“Any time something personally affects you, that creates grief or causes you to pause, obviously, I think we all understand it,” Renteria said. “I think every human being on the face of the earth understands it. I think it’s just a matter of how we’re going to allow the individual to deal with that particular situation and then, you know, kind of just get through it. You never forget it. I think it’s just one of those things, it’s just life. Sometimes things happen and you just have to deal with it and you move on.”
Moss’ death comes after a difficult start to the season for Anderson, who began the year with considerable expectations after a successful major league debut in 2016. The Tuscaloosa native signed a $25 million, six-year contract during spring training, but he hit just .204 in April with 24 strikeouts in 22 games.
“I just see it, it’s the beginning of a season and he’s a young man that’s continued to develop and you know, learn his way through the major leagues,” Renteria said.
The 23-year-old Anderson, a first-round pick in the 2013 amateur draft, was promoted to the White Sox last June. He hit .283 with nine homers, 30 RBIs and 10 steals in 99 games.
While this year hasn’t gone very well so far, he is showing signs of turning it around at the plate. The athletic shortstop had at least one hit in five of his first six games in May.
“This year has been one of the toughest years of my career, just from the things that are happening in my life,” he said. “It’s something I’m controlling, not letting my off-the-field issues control what I do on the field. That’s something I’m still learning. All of this is new to me. I’m experiencing a lot. But I can continue to grow and mature and become a better person, and definitely become a better teammate and player.”