ST. PETERSBURG -- The name of the game is good at-bats for Brian Anderson in order to hold on to the White Sox center-field job in Dewayne Wise's extended injury absence.
At least, that's the story Ozzie Guillen was telling before Thursday's series opener with the Rays.
"Just get better at-bats than what he's got and be aggressive," said Guillen of Anderson. "That's it. I sound like 2006 when he was in the plans every day. I had to answer the same questions. What do you need from him? Better at-bats. That's all. Be aggressive."
Anderson's first at-bat in Thursday's game came with A.J. Pierzynski on third, Alexei Ramirez on second and one out in the second inning. Anderson popped out to shortstop Jason Bartlett without advancing the runners or scoring the frame's third run for the White Sox.
That particular result would not be placed by Guillen in the good at-bats ledger. Even with Scott Podsednik back working for the White Sox at Triple-A Charlotte, the job belongs to Anderson until further notice. Of course, Guillen would feel better about the situation if Anderson's offense came close to matching his stellar defensive ability.
"We're not going to win every game, but I expect a lot better things from Brian," Guillen said. "If Brian doesn't do the job, somebody else will. Who? We got to figure out who it's going to be. I think it's about pitching and defense. The guys we got here, we believe they can do it. But right now, I don't have a Plan B or C if Brian doesn't do the job. I want to see Brian's at-bats and see how that works."
"Maybe he is what he is," said Guillen of the team's top pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. "We made a lot of mistakes with first-round picks for a long time here. Thank God we changed that scenario. But I think whoever picked him in the first round, the tools are there. He's got the tools. But he's got to show people the tools. [Just] because you have tools [doesn't mean] you can play in the big leagues. You got the tools. We believe he's got the tools. We're waiting for the tools.
"There is not a legit center fielder out there that we can look for. We're trying to put the best guy there. The one thing about it, I'm begging those guys to start playing the way we think they can play."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.