White Sox

Carson Fulmer credits David Price's advice for smooth first week of camp


Carson Fulmer credits David Price's advice for smooth first week of camp

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He may have been nervous and uncertain about how his first few days in the clubhouse would go. But Carson Fulmer’s relationship with All-Star pitcher David Price -- a strong bond created by their ties as alumni of the Vanderbilt University baseball program -- had the White Sox prospect better prepared for what to expect during his first week in big league camp.

After a recent conversation with Price, Fulmer, the No. 8 overall pick of the 2015 amateur draft, had an even better sense of what’s appropriate and what isn’t inside a major league clubhouse. Fulmer said Price’s advice has been an immense help throughout his first week of camp.

“Just don’t do too much,” Fulmer said. “I talked to him a few weeks ago prior to coming in here and he said not to do too much and really just enjoy the experience and soak it up as much as you can.”

Price isn’t the only MLB player Fulmer considers a mentor.

When asked about Price, who signed a $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox this offseason, Fulmer also identified Oakland’s Sonny Gray and free agent Pedro Alvarez as two recent Vanderbilt players who have offered the program’s current players advice that extends beyond cordial. Last summer, Price attended a Vanderbilt game during its College World Series run and he and the others routinely return to the Nashville-based campus to work out during the offseason.

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Fulmer credits Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin for the creation of a program that’s dividends go far beyond the normal college experience.

“All those guys that come back, they’re so influential in our development because we can apply stories through them,” Fulmer said. “It really helps us develop as a player knowing what to expect at the next level and during the college process. It’s like brother figures to us. Obviously, they’re like superstars but are very, very down to earth and very personable. I’m very thankful to be in a culture like that.”

Fulmer said Price’s involvement went even further. Price confirmed it last July at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati. He said he kept close tabs on the future first-rounder and his performance throughout the season and offered advice when he could. Price is impressed with how Fulmer, who won the SEC’s pitching Triple Crown last season, handled his time in the spotlight.

“For him to be able to do that knowing he was a top-10 pick all year long, that lets you know he put all that to the side,” Price said in July. “He didn’t worry about it. He had a couple of bad games early in the year and I would always talk to him about it and he’d come back the next Friday and he would dominate. When you see a guy like that, the position he’s in, that lets you know how focused he is and that’s good to see that.”

Fulmer knew about Vanderbilt’s culture when he signed on to play there. But it’s even better than he expected, especially when it came to Price.

“He was so in tune with everything and, not only me, but a lot of the other guys,” Fulmer said. “He has so many things to worry about, but the fact that he took time and helped us along the way speaks so much about who he is. The more I got to know him, the more things I would run through him and it definitely would help me a lot.”

In this instance, Price gave Fulmer a sense of how to properly conduct himself in a clubhouse full of big leaguers.

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The general advice has helped Fulmer through an interesting and entertaining week of firsts.

Fulmer admits he was a little excited for Alex Avila to catch his first bullpen session. Avila used to train with the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., Fulmer’s hometown and he’s a player the pitcher liked to watch.

Fulmer also has enjoyed several conversations with fellow Lakelander Chris Sale on the sideline.

And on Thursday, Fulmer handled a round of rookie treatment with aplomb. In order to make room for veteran Jimmy Rollins, the White Sox moved Fulmer’s clubhouse stall from a plush locale with nobody on his right side to a crowded slot in between several veterans.

“He’s a good guy to get replaced for,” said Fulmer, who noted he looks forward to meeting Rollins.

Clearly, Fulmer’s makeup, which the White Sox believe is outstanding, has been the biggest guide through the past week. But he believes Price’s advice has had a significant impact.

“It’s definitely helped me at least throughout the first couple of days here in camp,” Fulmer said. “It’s hard to do when you come in and you’re a rookie and whatnot. But just being able to trust that, and really taking his advice has been so beneficial in so many ways.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?


As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”