White Sox

Set for 2017 finale, Jason Benetti discusses Hawk's impact on his career

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Set for 2017 finale, Jason Benetti discusses Hawk's impact on his career

On the eve of his final game as a part-time broadcaster, Jason Benetti can’t help but think of the influence Hawk Harrelson has had on his career.

Benetti, who replaces Harrelson as the full-time White Sox play-by-play man next season, will call his final regular season game of 2017 on Thursday night. The White Sox host the Los Angeles Angels on CSN Chicago at 7 p.m. The White Sox finish the season on the road and Harrelson, who will work a reduced schedule in 2018, is back in the booth for the final three games at Cleveland.

“I used the catchphrases for so long as a kid that when I first sat in a chair anywhere to do baseball I had to stop myself from saying things he said because they were his,” Benetti said. “That was the first person that shaped me doing this. There are moments, I even asked in the middle of a ball flying out last night, I said, ‘Did he get him again?’ about Parker Bridwell. ‘The answer is an emphatic yes.’ I said, Ooh. Can I say yes? It didn’t have the prelude, but yeah. He’s done so much with the vocabulary that you think about it all the time.”

Hired before the 2016 season, Benetti looks forward to working a full slate of games in 2018. He’s expected to call around 140-plus games while Harrelson will be behind the mic for 20. Unlike this season, Benetti will travel on the road full time with the exception of a few series.

[RELATED - How Jason Benetti traveled over 1,000 miles to call three different games in less than 24 hours]

The past two seasons, Benetti has watched along from home or listened whenever the White Sox have been away. He said that has been a bit of a challenge after working as a full-time broadcaster since 2005.

“I’m used to doing them all,” Benetti said. “I watch the games whenever I can. Whenever I’m not on the air I watch the games or listen to the games. Always, no question about it, always fill out my scorebook. My scorebook has the whole season in it regardless. So either I’ll go back on game day and fill it out or I’ll fill it out live, but I’m reading the clips. That’s what I do. It’s a part of my morning.”

Harrelson’s signature calls have always been a big part of Benetti’s life as the Homewood-Flossmoor product grew up a White Sox fan. He’s not at all surprised to see the impact Harrelson has had carry over to social media. Both the sons of Todd Frazier and Yoan Moncada have been recorded mimicking Harrelson’s “Yesssss” home run call.

“That’s thousands upon thousands upon thousands of kids in Chicagoland,” Benetti said. “That’s just what you grow up with in Chicago. Even if you’re a fan of the other team in Chicago, you know Hawk and you know his catchphrases. Even if you say you don’t really like them, you use them. And if you love him, you use them.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Peter Gammons explains why Michael Kopech will win a Cy Young Award

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Peter Gammons explains why Michael Kopech will win a Cy Young Award

On Day 2 of the MLB Winter Meetings, Chuck Garfien speaks with legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons, who shares his knowledge about the key figures in the White Sox rebuild.

He explains why Michael Kopech will win a Cy Young Award one day, and he raves about Carson Fulmer as well as the returns the White Sox got last year at the Winter Meetings in the Sale and Eaton trades.

Then Garfien is joined by White Sox manager Rick Renteria who talks about Jose Abreu’s leadership, if he sees the White Sox trading Abreu, what he’s seen from Luis Robert and more.

We wrap up the podcast with NBC Sports Chicago’s Vinnie Duber, who’s covering the White Sox at the Winter Meetings. They discuss whether the White Sox would trade for Manny Machado or Christian Yelich and give a list of free-agent pitchers the White Sox should sign.  

Carson Fulmer expected to be part of White Sox rotation, but is he a part of the rebuild's future?

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USA TODAY

Carson Fulmer expected to be part of White Sox rotation, but is he a part of the rebuild's future?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The White Sox starting rotation is coming into focus.

With James Shields, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez locked into the top three slots, one of the items on the team’s offseason to-do list was to figure out who the final two spots would go to.

Obviously, Carlos Rodon has a spot when he’s healthy. But after having surgery at the end of last season, there’s no telling when he’ll be back. General manager Rick Hahn keeps saying it could be by Opening Day or it could be by June, and there has been no change to that prognosis at the Winter Meetings here at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort.

One of the two open spots, though, appears set to go to Carson Fulmer, the White Sox first-round draft pick back in 2015. Hahn said if everything remains the same as it is right now, the team expects Fulmer to be one of its five starting pitchers in 2018.

“We certainly have the expectation that he’ll be part of the rotation come the end of spring training,” Hahn said during his daily briefing Tuesday. “Let’s see how everybody shows up, health wise, any other potential transactions between now and then, and what the ultimate fit is and what’s best for his long-term development. But as we sit here today, I think you could look at him as one of our five.”

While Fulmer was drafted out of Vanderbilt to be a starting pitcher of the future, he’s made just five big league starts in his mere 15 appearances in the majors. As a reliever in 2016, things went poorly, as he allowed 11 runs in just 11.2 innings. Last season was better, at least after his first appearance of the season, in which he gave up six runs in 1.1 innings in a start on Aug. 21. He came back in September and posted a 1.64 ERA in six appearances, which included four starts.

Hahn admitted Tuesday that Fulmer might have been rushed to the big leagues after being selected with the No. 8 pick in 2015. But if Fulmer can replicate what happened in September, maybe there’s another future piece people should be talking about.

“He’s had some hardships thrown his way, both with getting accelerated a little too quickly to get the big leagues initially given where we were as a club at the time to some off-the-field stuff. But he’s bounced back from all of it, he hasn’t hung his head at all, and I think in September we saw him hit his stride a little bit and show some of the flashes of what he’s capable of doing,” Hahn said. “We certainly view him as a guy who has the ability to contribute both in the rotation or in the ‘pen depending on where the need is.”

Considering Fulmer was drafted and even made his major league debut before the much-heralded rebuild officially began, it’s easy to let him slip through the cracks when mentioning highly rated prospects like Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez and even fellow pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. But Hahn said he thinks Fulmer should be included in that group of names, too.

“I think so,” Hahn said. “From a fit standpoint, from a clubhouse standpoint, it’s tough to beat him. From success in big games, we saw that going back to Vanderbilt. So he’s been tested under the brightest lights at each stage and succeeded. Now it’s a matter of him, as we saw to an extent in September, seizing the opportunity that’s in front of him and making the most of it.”

It sure looks like Fulmer will get that opportunity — even if the White Sox add a veteran to help balance out a young rotation. And then he can prove if he is truly a long-term piece of the puzzle on the South Side.