Elvis Andrus smiled when he heard “April 6, 2009.”
“What do I remember from that day?” Andrus said last week in Pittsburgh. “That was my opening day, man. That was one of the best days of my career, I made a dream come true.
“And I remember I got a hit, a double in my first at-bat. It was an amazing day and we won that day. It was quite a special day.”
Andrus reached another milestone during the Chicago White Sox’s final homestandon April 5 against the San Francisco Giants.
“There are a couple of things that come to mind when I think of 2,000 hits: You have to be a very good baseball player and you have to play a long time,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. He has done both. This is his 15th season and he is a very good baseball player.”
The Sox return to guaranteed-rate field Friday to begin a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles. Andrus seems to be hitting the ground running after a 5-for-40 run has brought his average down to .146. The Sox are also looking to turn around afteragainst the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Minnesota Twins.
Andrus will have a different role since the last time the Sox were home, moving from second base to shortstop afterTuesday with a sprained left knee.
Days before the switch, Andrus reflected on his path to 2000 with the Tribune.
April 6, 2009: Texas Rangers vs. Cleveland
Andrus’ first major league at-bat came against Cliff Lee, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2008.
“I was very nervous and I got to play him the next year and I said, ‘What do you think of me?’ He said, ‘I was trying to strike you out, you were a rookie,’” Andrus said with a laugh.
Andrus doubled to right field on the fifth pitch of the second inning at-bat.
“At that point, don’t be afraid, just go and play,” Andrus said. “They all told me the same thing: Don’t change. Go and play, be yourself. I tried to do that as much as I could and I was able to have a good first year in the big leagues.”
May 25, 2015: Rangers at Cleveland
Andrus has a .332 career average against Cleveland, his second-best against any team.
“Cleveland is a very good place to hit,” he said.
It was fitting that his 1,000th career hit came against Cleveland: a two-run double in the third off Ryan Webb.
While Andrus could not remember the specific at-bat, he said, “I always feel very comfortable playing there in Cleveland.”
July 23, 2018: Rangers vs. oakland athletics
Andrus missed more than two months in 2018 after a pitch fractured his right elbow on April 11.
He returned in mid-June and hit a two-run home run to left field in the third inning off Brett Anderson on July 23 for his 1,500th career hit.
“That was the year I came back from my broken arm,” Andrus said. “(Success) was amazing, especially doing it at home. I got the ball back. The fans were very kind.”
The next night, Andrus hit the first grand slam of his career.
“From the first (hit) to the last, everyone has been really special,” Andrus said. “I don’t take anything for granted. I know how hard it is to play in the big leagues and hit in the big leagues, especially nowadays.
“Very grateful for everything I’ve done in my career, and I’m still trying to play as much as I can and provide and help the team.”
April 5: White Sox vs. giants
Andrus was well aware that he was approaching the number 2,000.
“Every shot like that, to get to 500, 1,000, I hate when people start putting numbers in my head because that’s when I, I don’t put pressure on, but, ‘OK, I need to get it,’” Andrus said. “Sometimes he starts running instead of playing and just keeps doing your thing.”
Andrus was hitless in 14 at-bats after reaching 1,999 hits. He reached 2,000 with a single to right field in the fifth inning against Giants starter Logan Webb.
“It was amazing,” Andrus said. “I wish I could have done it in Houston; all my family was there. But it is a beautiful thing. Fewer than 300 players ever in the big leagues (290 according to the Sox). I am very grateful and super honored and blessed to be a part of that group.”