White Sox

Sox Drawer: The Truth About J.J. Putz


Sox Drawer: The Truth About J.J. Putz

Friday, Jan. 22, 2010
8:21 PM

Im sitting in a hotel room at the Palmer House, the site of Sox Fest 2010. 139 years ago, this was the site of the very first Palmer House (known as The Palmer), which only 13 days after being built, was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Into the room walks J.J. Putz. He might not know much about Chicago history, or the fire that once erupted here, but if given the choice, the new White Sox reliever would torch his 2009 season straight to the ground.

It was a mess from the beginning, said Putz in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. He was traded from the Mariners to the Mets in a monster three-team, 11-player deal in December 2008. The former closer was supposed to be the 8th inning set-up man for Francisco Rodriguez, a 1-2 punch that on paper was also supposed to make the Mets unbeatable in the late-innings.

But soon after he arrived in New York, Putz knew that something was wrong.

When the trade went down last year, I never really had a physical with the Mets, said Putz. I had the bone spur (in the right elbow). It was discovered the previous year in Seattle, and it never got checked out by any other doctors until I got to spring training, and the spring training physical is kind of a formality. It was bugging me all through April, and in May I got an injection. It just got to the point where I couldnt pitch. I couldnt throw strikes, my velocity was way down.

And it was showing on the mound. The once super human reliever had suddenly become a broken down mess. After 29 games, he was 1-and-4 with a 5.22 ERA. He had 19 walks in 19 innings. And this was New York. The boos cascading from Citi Field could be heard across the river in Jersey.

Being hurt is never fun, especially when you go to a team like New York, where the expectation level is so high, and youre not able to do what you know you can do. (The Mets) gave up a lot to get me, so it was disappointing and frustrating.

Especially when the Mets told Putz not to talk about being hurt with the media.

I knew that I wasnt right. I wasnt healthy. The toughest part was having to face the media and tell them that you feel fine, even though you know theres something wrong and they dont want you telling them that youre banged up.

By June, Putz was concerned that the pain in his elbow would start affecting his shoulder, so he had surgery to remove the bone spur, and was supposed to miss 10-to-12 weeks. However, when he tried to come back in August, he felt some tightness in his right forearm.

Thats when (the Mets) told me that I blew my elbow out. That was kind of a shock because I never felt any pain in it.

It didnt matter. The Mets shut him down. Putzs season was over. And he learned a very important lesson.

That its my career, and when you know something doesnt feel right, and they want to take these little sidesteps to do something, and just wait and wait and wait, you got to get it taken care of instead of trying to prolong the inevitable.

In November, the Mets chose to wipe the slate clean, declining J.J.s 9.1 million option for 2010.

Putz says that the first team to call was the White Sox.

They wanted to do a physical right away, said Putz. They took an MRI. The elbow looked clean.

Which was exactly what Sox GM Kenny Williams wanted to see.

When our doctors finally got their hands on him, he passed his physical with flying colors, said Williams after the signing. We couldn't be happier with what was communicated to us by our doctors.

The Sox quickly signed Putz to a one-year, 3 million contract.

One person who couldnt be happier was Matt Thornton. The fellow reliever and Michigan native placed a call to Putz to gauge his interest, but Putz says that Matt didnt put on the kind of hard sell that has been reported. The two are close friends and huge fans of the Wolverines. But Putz is quick to point out that only one of them has maze and blue in his blood.

I went there. He went to some Grand Valley State University Technical Ranch Dressing School or something like that. Hes a poser.

Friday at Sox Fest Putz said that his arm feels great, and he will be throwing off a mound in two weeks.

But when he walks to the mound at U.S. Cellular Field when the season begins, hes going to need a new song announcing his arrival. Putz has always used Thunderstruck by ACDC, but that's been the White Sox team song since their 2005 World series title.

So, clearly Putz needs a new song and hes asking you for suggestions. That's right...you!

Email me your ideas (SoxDrawer@comcastsportsnet.com) and Ill be sure to pass them along to J.J. If he chooses your song, you'll get White Sox tickets for this season!

And no offense to Gordon Beckham, but no more songs by the Outfield.

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Can Carson Fulmer carve out a spot in the rotation of the future?


Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Can Carson Fulmer carve out a spot in the rotation of the future?

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

Spring stats aren't supposed to mean much. But when they're really bad, do they mean a little more?

Carson Fulmer has had a bad spring. He entered Monday's outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks with an astonishingly high 18.90 ERA. Things got a little better Monday, when he had his best outing of the spring, throwing four scoreless (and hitless) innings.

Fulmer, the No. 8 pick in the 2015 draft, was supposed to be a big piece of the White Sox future coming off an excellent season at Vanderbilt. But with just 15 big league appearances under his belt and now this poor showing in spring training, it's worth wondering how big a piece he'll be when this rebuild reaches its apex and the White Sox are planned to be contending on an annual basis — or if he's going to be a piece at all.

Moved quickly to the majors in 2016, Fulmer was roughed up for an 8.49 ERA in eight relief appearances. Last season, he was crushed in a spot start in August, allowing six runs in 1.1 innings. But he came back at the end of the season and showed some promise, turning in a 1.64 ERA in six appearances. Four of those were starts, and in those he allowed just three runs in 17.1 innings.

That end-of-season performance figured to earn Fulmer a spot on the young-and-getting-younger White Sox starting staff, giving him the opportunity to prove that he could be a part of a rotation of the future. Instead, the spring has been a bumpy ride.

His first outing against the Cubs: four runs in an inning. His second outing against the San Diego Padres: four runs in an inning. His third outing against the Padres: two runs in three innings. His fourth outing against the Milwaukee Brewers: seven runs in 1.2 innings.

That's a hideous list of results for a guy trying to work his way into a rotation spot. Monday, his fifth outing, got him back on track a bit, and it still looks like he'll stave off Hector Santiago — signed to a minor league deal at the outset of spring training and looking like a shoo-in for the long-relief role in the bullpen — for the fifth spot in the rotation. The obvious thing going for Fulmer in that battle is his age and his one-time expectations, good enough reasons to give him every opportunity to earn a spot in a rotation of the future.

Thing is, that future's coming fast. The rotation of the future is a crowded one, with Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning and Carlos Rodon all fighting for jobs, along with Fulmer. So this year offers a unique opportunity for Fulmer to show the White Sox at the big league level that he can be one of those guys.

But he's got to get there first. It makes sense that he would, because even if his spring struggles move over to the regular season, the White Sox aren't expected to be contending for a championship in 2018.

The window to impress might not be huge, but it does exist. In 2018, we'll see what Fulmer can do.

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Tampa Bay Rays?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Tampa Bay Rays?

As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

What’s there to know about the Tampa Bay Rays?

Well, remember all the players on the Rays that you know? Bad news. They aren’t on the Rays anymore.

That’s not entirely true, I suppose, as Chris Archer is still on the Rays. But he’s got to be looking around the home clubhouse at the Trop these days and wondering, “Where’d everybody go?”

Perhaps trying to emulate the other fish-based Florida franchise, the Rays traded away a bunch of players this offseason, making this roster — one that somehow managed to finish third in the American League East last season — unrecognizable.

Evan Longoria, perhaps the best player in this young franchise’s history, was traded to the San Francisco Giants. Jake Odorizzi was traded to the Minnesota Twins. Corey Dickerson was DFA’d, then traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Steve Souza was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. And look at this lengthy list of guys who were lost to free agency: Alex Cobb, Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison, Tommy Hunter and Steve Cishek.

Can someone go check and make sure the rays in that tank in center field didn’t get traded, too?

So who’s left from this offseason purge? Well, there’s Archer, who despite being an awesome face for the game has finished with an ERA north of 4.00 in each of the last two seasons. He’s still really good, at this point almost a lock for 200 innings and way more than 200 strikeouts. But who’s going to help him out?

The additions of 34-year-old Denard Span and 32-year-old Carlos Gomez were … odd. There are two former White Sox in the mix in Micah Johnson, who’s been on like 17 teams since November, and Daniel Hudson, who the Rays got back for Dickerson. Matt Duffy didn’t play at all last season. Kevin Kiermaier only played in 98 games last year but was quite good, having the best offensive season of his career. After an All-Star season for the Washington Nationals, Wilson Ramos missed most of last season, his first with the Rays.

The best player on the team, or at least the one with the best 2017 campaign, is closer Alex Colome, the pitcher whose name begins “Alex Co” that the Rays still employ. He led baseball with 47 saves last year, and that’s on a team that won only 80 games. Mighty impressive. He’s got 84 saves in the last two seasons combined.

That doesn't mean there's not help on the way. Much like White Sox fans, Rays fans can salivate over a potentially promising future. The organization boasts three of the top 25 prospects in baseball: pitcher Brent Honeywell (No. 18), infielder Willy Adames (No. 22) and "first baseman/pitcher" — that sounds fun — Brendan McKay (No. 25). And they have two more guys in the top 100, including shortstop Christian Arroyo, the big piece coming back in that Longoria deal with the Giants. So the future is perhaps as bright as that sunburst in the Rays' logo.

In the end, though, it ain’t shaping up to be a good year in St. Pete, and the catwalk-filled baseball warehouse has only a little to do with that. The post Joe Maddon/Andrew Friedman Era hasn’t gone too well. Meanwhile, Maddon's won a World Series with the Cubs, and Friedman's been to one with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Any other wacky managers and baseball geniuses out there?

2017 record: 80-82, third place in AL East

Offseason additions: Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, C.J. Cron, Micah Johnson, Joey Wendle, Daniel Hudson

Offseason departures: Evan Longoria, Jake Odorizzi, Corey Dickerson, Steve Souza, Alex Cobb, Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison, Tommy Hunter, Steve Cishek

X-factor: He's not the X-factor, but it's worth pointing out that the Rays do have a player named "Mallex," which sounds like the name of a bad guy in a superhero movie. While Archer looks real lonely on that starting staff, there's some interesting guys around him. Somewhat strangely, the Rays are going to employ a four-man rotation. The X-factor of the bunch is Jake Faria, who in his first big league season last year turned in a 3.43 ERA in 16 games, 14 of which were starts. He struck out 84 batters in 86.2 innings. Past Archer and Faria, you've got Blake Snell, who struck out 119 guys in 129.1 innings, and Nathan Eovaldi, the one-time New York Yankee who missed all of last season.

Projected lineup:

1. Denard Span, DH
2. Matt Duffy, 3B
3. Kevin Kiermaier, CF
4. Carlos Gomez, RF
5. Brad Miller, 2B
6. Wilson Ramos, C
7. C.J. Cron, 1B
8. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
9. Mallex Smith, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Chris Archer
2. Blake Snell
3. Nathan Eovaldi
4. Jake Faria

Prediction: Fifth place in AL East, no playoffs

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants