White Sox

Man behind the glasses: How Carson Fulmer will force White Sox hand

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Man behind the glasses: How Carson Fulmer will force White Sox hand

Superman has his cape. Thor has his hammer. Iron Man has his suit.

Carson Fulmer? He has his glasses.

When the White Sox first-round pick from 2015 puts on his glasses before he dashes out to the mound, he transforms from a quiet kid from Lakeland, Fla. to a fiery competitor with a live fastball and an ace mentality.

Fulmer donned the glasses after a stretch band slipped off his foot while stretching before a game his freshman year and hit him in the eye. It didn’t cause any permanent damage to his eye but he keeps them on to protect himself during a game.

“A lot of guys say it's intimidating,” Fulmer said. “I have no intentions of making it like that. I just use it for protection. I've gotten used to it. I kind of like them though.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Fulmer lives for the big moment and thrives when challenged. At Vanderbilt, Fulmer got the start in the Commodores’ biggest game in program history, Game 3 of the 2014 College World Series, and went 5 1/3 innings, giving up just one earned run, three hits and two walks along with five strikeouts against Virginia, a team that won 53 games that year. The win gave Vanderbilt its first men’s national championship ever. In any sport.

In 2015, Fulmer was named SEC Pitcher of the Year and a Golden Spikes Award finalist after going 14-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 167 strikeouts over 127 2/3 innings. Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin gave Fulmer the ball to start Game 1 of the 2015 College World Series, a rematch against Virginia. To nobody’s surprise, Fulmer rose to the occasion. He left to a standing ovation from the Commodore faithful in Omaha after going 7 2/3 innings, giving up just two hits and two walks while striking out eight. And most importantly: no runs.

The right-hander earned the nickname “Filthy Fulmer” during his time in Nashville and garnered some elite praise from Corbin, who has watched pitchers such as David Price and Sonny Gray come through the program.

"As a kid, we just haven't had many like him," Corbin said after Fulmer’s final start. "He's one of the most special kids that we've ever had on our campus. I mean, this kid's, like, a 4.0 student. His last term here, when everything -- the focus -- could be anywhere but on academics, he just does such a good job, like Dansby (Swanson), on centering themselves in the moment and containing whatever they have to do. But he's a special, special competitor, and he'll go down as one of the greatest pitchers to ever pitch at Vanderbilt. I don't want to say the (greatest), because we've had some good ones, but I'll tell you what, he's a special guy."

[ALSO: Fulmer moves up in MLB Pipeline's prospect rankings]

Fulmer, who finished his collegiate career with a 24-3 record in three years, heads to a franchise that has made a habit of moving established college pitchers through the minors quickly.

Chris Sale lasted 10 1/3 innings in the minors before packing his bags for U.S. Cellular Field. Carlos Rodon tossed 34 1/3 innings between Charlotte and Winston-Salem and then became a staple in the White Sox rotation. One national analyst envisions Fulmer getting the call sometime this summer. GM Rick Hahn is already getting questions surrounding Fulmer’s expected arrival time at 35th and Shields.

“The funny thing is that if Carson contributed to us in 2017 that would be an extremely quick developmental path,” Hahn said at SoxFest 2016. “I don't think that's an unreasonable expectation. Given how quickly Chris Sale came along and how quickly Carlos Rodon came along, I think there's this mild thought in the back of some people's heads that perhaps Carson will be on that same path given his talent and given his makeup and the fact that we've seen other guys do it.

“The good ones have a way of forcing that time frame and letting you know when they're ready. Once they do, we'll create the opportunity.”

[RELATED: Sale likes the direction the White Sox are taking]

Fulmer’s path to the majors may be expedited if the Sox see a spot in the bullpen open up. But the team still has a long term goal of making him a big piece of their starting rotation.

"I will not be the one to tell Carson Fulmer he won't start, because he's liable to punch you in the face,” White Sox scouting director Nick Hostetler said.

Sale, another Lakeland native, has been in Fulmer’s ear ever since he got drafted, helping him prepare for his big moment.

“We've actually spent quite a bit of time together,” Sale said. “I was up in Lakeland and he came over to the house a couple weeks ago. We played golf in my hometown. I've been able to spend some time with him and show him the ropes and get him prepared for what he's about to start.”

The question doesn’t seem to be will the six-foot future ace be good, it’s how good will he be. He’s already listed as the No. 38 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com and is the ninth rated right-hander in all of the minors. With the arm, the makeup and those lethal glasses, Fulmer will force the White Sox hand in 2016.

“They have a plan," Fulmer said. "And I have to respect that. Obviously it's a huge dream of mine to make it to the big leagues. I just got to sit back and be patient with it. Wherever they send me is where they are going to send me.”

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

GLENDALE, AZ --  There’s a different Tim Anderson at White Sox spring training this year.

You can see it on his face  You can hear it in his voice.

“I’m busting out of the shell. I’m talking more,” he said as he sat down for an interview with NBC Sports Chicago (in the video above).

It’s not the new Tim Anderson. It turns out, it’s the real one that’s been there all along.

“This is me. It’s always been me. I never knew how to express myself. I feel like I’m being a lot more open,” Anderson explained. “That’s what I want to give to fans. Let them know the real me. You’re cheering for me. Why not know me? I’m being open and kind of let fans into my life.”

The White Sox shortstop has learned a lot about life in the past year. It all started in May when the White Sox were in Baltimore to play the Orioles. Anderson received a phone call at 4 a.m. It was news from back home.

It was the worst phone call of his life.

His best friend Branden Moss had been murdered in the parking lot of a Tuscaloosa, Ala., bar after helping the victim of a fight.  

The two were like brothers. Anderson is the godfather to Moss’s young daughter. Moss was the godfather to Anderson’s 2-year-old daughter.

“It was heartbreaking,” Anderson said.

While Anderson grieved, playing baseball seemed like it would be a perfect escape for his pain. Only it wasn’t. Far from it.  Baseball might have made things even worse.

In fast-paced sports like football and hockey, players don’t have much time to think. It’s react, react, react. Whatever might be happening off the field feels like a million miles away.

Not in baseball.

The game moves at a much slower speed. There’s plenty of time for your mind to wander. Thoughts kept going back to Anderson’s lost friend, taken from him in an instant.

At 23, he didn’t have the tools to deal with the emotional pain and excel at baseball at the same time.

“The year was rough. I wasn’t having fun in between the lines. I was making the game harder than it was. I was thinking too much. I was feeling sorry for myself and the list can go on. When my friend died it definitely took a lot out of me. I had a dark moment,” Anderson said. “Some days I didn’t feel comfortable coming to the ballpark because I knew it was going to be a bad day.”

Making matters worse, there were many nights when Anderson didn’t sleep. Not a wink. Still, he dragged himself to the ballpark and somehow tried to play.

The results weren’t pretty. On June 22, Anderson already had 16 errors at shortstop, most in the majors. At the plate, he was hitting .256/.284/.374 with six home runs and 19 RBIs.

He knew he was better than that. He also knew something else: He needed help.

In July, Anderson started meeting with a therapist who was able to unlock the pent up thoughts and emotions that he was burying inside him.

The therapist would write down everything that Anderson was feeling on paper and then read it back to him.

“Just going in and talking and pouring everything out of you. It lets you hear what you’ve been going through,“ Anderson said. “When she did it, it was a lot. I took what she read to me, balled it up and threw it away. I got lighter. It was a brightening. Those counseling sessions definitely helped me.”

Soon, Anderson was back to being himself both on and off the field.

In the month of August, he had 8 doubles, 5 home runs and 16 RBI.

“Woof. I was hot,” he said after hearing those stats. “That’s Tim. That’s more Tim that we need to see.”

In September, he batted .327 with 3 home runs and 9 stolen bases.

“We need a lot of that this year. That’s the way I want to go. That’s the way I want to go about it. Get back to what got me here.”

There was still an issue with his plate discipline. He had 32 strikeouts and only 1 walk in September.

“We play a tough sport as it is. They’re going to come,” Anderson said about the walks. “I mean, when I walk more, what are you going to tell me? ‘Start swinging more?’ It’s one of those things. It’s a give and take. We’ll see what happens.”

In 2017, Anderson received a crash course in adversity. What did he learn from all that pain and misery?

“Tough times happen, but they don’t last forever.”

Now that he’s survived the personal storm from last season, he wants “another shot at it. I feel like last year went left. This is new season.”

So, what does he envision for himself in 2018?

“Having fun, smiling a lot, picking up my teammates, hugging on the coaches and players. A lot of love, more so than stats,” Anderson said. “I’m fired up. I’m excited. I feel like I’m ready to lead this pack. We got a great group of guys. We’ve got a chance to do something special.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

The White Sox top pitching prospect sits down with Chuck Garfien for a revealing interview at spring training. Kopech says he almost quit the game after he got into a fight with a Red Sox minor league teammate in 2016. He goes in-depth about his desire to be great, why meditating makes him a better pitcher, his failed PED test in 2015, comparisons to Justin Verlander, possibly becoming the future ace of the White Sox and much more.