Elvis Andrus happy to be playing ‘meaningful’ games for White Sox

CLEVELAND — Going through the league with the Oakland Athletics surrendering was a strain of sorts, so coming to the White Sox, a disappointing team but one with a postseason shot, eased Elvis Andrus’ outlook for the past six weeks of the Season.

“We’ve rebuilt, it’s always difficult, especially for me,” said Andrus, who played his first game with the Sox against the Guardians on Friday after signing a contract for the remainder of the season. “I want to be in that environment. I want to fight for the playoffs. Every day counts, meaningful games. I’m really happy and pumped to be here.”

The Sox, released by the Athletics on Wednesday, pounced on Andrus and snapped him a prorated minimum salary for the remainder of the season. With All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson likely out until the final week of the season after undergoing middle finger surgery on Aug. 11, the Sox had to play rookies Romy Gonzalez and Lenyn Sosa at shortstop when Leury Garcia was put on the injured list for the week.

Sosa was selected to Triple-A Charlotte to make way for a player with two All-Star appearances, two World Series appearances and a career .270/.326/.369 hitting line.

“He has a lot of game left,” manager Tony La Russa said of Andrus, who turns 34 next Friday. “He plays the whole game, still catches well, can lead the bases, has a knack for scoring against good pitchers. Played in a few World Series [one against La Russa’s Cardinals in 2011]. We are thrilled to bring him here.”

Andrus also has slightly better numbers in the second half of his 14-year career, batting well against the Guardians (.342/.409/.518 with a .927 OPS) and the Twins (.281/.323/.392 a.715 OPS), the teams who need to overtake the Sox to win the soft AL Central.

“Yeah, I love it,” said Andrus, who showed up as a Sox on his first at-bat but said the ball always looked huge to him at progressive field for some reason. “That was one of the things I saw when I signed with the team, ‘Ah, we’re going to play in Cleveland.’ I said, ‘Okay, that’s not bad, that’s not a bad starting point for me.’ The same goes for Minnesota. I always play very well against them.”

Andrus, who had some of his track and field gear in his locker in the visitors’ clubhouse, had a relaxed chat with Eloy Jimenez, Jose Abreu and others before the game. He struggled in seventh place against the Guardians and right-hander Triston McKenzie.

“People talk about the player, the winner, the character that he has,” La Russa said. “So he’s going to fit right into our culture. We’re lucky to get him. Huge gratitude to the front office.”

Andrus played with second baseman Josh Harrison at Oakland last season, so there’s a familiarity in the center of infield. And he played in Texas behind Sox Friday starter Lance Lynn.

“That’s the guy you want up the hill every four or five days,” Andrus said. “Incredible and kinda funny, my first game he will be hosting. I’m sure I’ll feel a lot more comfortable.”

Maybe Andrus can help keep the spark the Sox (20-13 in their last 33 games) have had. At the very least, he adds solid defense and a proven slugger and secures a prime position in a pennant race.

“The only thing you appreciate about playing many years is the opportunity to play meaningful games in September,” Andrus said. “That’s what I love most about this game. It takes away the entire business and financial side of you and you focus and do whatever it takes to win that day. It’s all about winning. Do everything you can to win that day.”