White Sox

White Sox demote Carson Fulmer to Triple-A Charlotte

White Sox demote Carson Fulmer to Triple-A Charlotte

CLEVELAND -- Carson Fulmer is headed back to the minors to become a starter once again.

During Fulmer’s month in the majors, White Sox manager Robin Ventura often stressed how he wanted the rookie pitcher to learn to pitch one batter and one inning at a time. They wanted him to understand the importance of command and that even though he has good stuff, he has to be sharp to be successful. The White Sox also wanted to take Fulmer, the No. 8 pick of the 2015 draft, out of his comfort zone by throwing him in the bullpen.

As they optioned him back to Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday night, their hope is he’ll take the lessons learned and apply them to starting pitching. The White Sox will promote pitcher Anthony Ranaudo on Wednesday in Fulmer’s stead.

“He got a taste for it,” Ventura said. “When he comes up here and he’s relieving, which isn’t really normal to him, that’s something he’s trying to get used to. Some of it is you go and you’re facing major league hitters and you learn to adjust and you learn that they can hit a fastball. These guys can hit. He ended up scrambling to a point to where he figured out how to locate. I think his last couple have been better. Now I’d like to see him get stretched out a little bit and there might be a possibility down the road he gets a start when he comes back.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]​

Promoted July 15, Fulmer appeared in eight games and has an 8.49 ERA in 11 2/3 innings. Even though he likes late-innings situations and many scouts believe he profiles well for the role, Fulmer struggled early. He allowed seven earned runs in an inning over two outings, including four runs to the Cubs on July 27. But Fulmer showed improvement in his past two outings, allowed two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.

“I think that broadening my horizon and really being as a reliever, being in those situations in tight games, this will do nothing but help me in the future,” Fulmer said. “So, you know I will always continue to learn and have experience.”

Fulmer doesn’t expect it would take long to stretch out. He throws regularly and thinks it will be easy to build up the necessary arm strength. Part of the move is also to get Fulmer more innings this season. Between Charlotte and the majors, Fulmer has thrown 98 2/3 innings. Ventura said there’s a possibility that Fulmer could return to the big leagues in September and even the potential for starting assignments.

Fulmer and Ventura think his experience out of the ‘pen should help the right-hander for whatever is asked of him in the near term.

“I think in a lot of ways you’ve got to be able to adjust, adapt and get after it,” Ventura said. “That’s part of coming up here and facing major league hitters. He wasn’t going to necessarily be in the rotation, but you at least get a taste of facing major league hitters and that’s the biggest thing. You get to see what it’s all about.”

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

GLENDALE, AZ — You don’t need a scale to see that Lucas Giolito lost some weight in the offseason. As he walks around Camelback Ranch, he just seems lighter. These pounds were shedded thanks to a certain label that has been detached from his name and his being.

“Lucas Giolito, number-one pitching prospect in baseball” is no more.

“Definitely. Big time relief. I carried that title for a while,” Giolito told NBC Sports Chicago. “It was kind of up and down. I was (ranked) 1 at one point. I dropped. I always paid attention to it a little bit moving through the minor leagues.”

Which for any young hurler is risky business. The “best pitching prospect” designation can mess with a pitcher’s psyche and derail a promising career. Giolito was walking a mental tightrope reading those rankings, but after making it back to the majors last season with the White Sox and succeeding, the moniker that seemed to follow him wherever he went has now vanished.

“Looking back on it, that stuff is pretty cool," Giolito said. "It can pump you up and make you feel good about yourself, but in the end the question is, what are you going to do at the big league level? Can you contribute to a team? I’m glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that and all that other stuff is in the rear view."

This wasn’t the case when the White Sox acquired Giolito from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in December 2016. When he arrived at spring training last year, he was carrying around tons of extra baggage in his brain that was weighing him down. Questions about his ability and makeup weren’t helping as he tried living up to such high expectations.

“Yeah, I’d say especially with the trade coming off 2016 where I didn’t perform well at all that year," Giolito said. "I got traded over to a new organization, I still have this label on me of being a top pitching prospect while I’m going to a new place, I’m trying to impress people but at the same time I had a lot of things off mechanically I was trying to fix. Mentally, I was not in the best place as far as pitching went. It definitely added some extra pressure that I didn’t deal with well for a while."

How bad was it for Giolito? Here are some of the thoughts that were scrambling his brain during spring training and beyond last season.

“I saw I wasn’t throwing as hard. I was like, ’Where did my velocity go?’ Oh, it’s my mechanics. My mechanics are bad. I need to fix those,” Giolito said. “Then I’m trying to make adjustments. Why can’t I make this adjustment? It compounds. It just builds and builds and builds and can weigh on you a ton. I was 22 turning 23 later in the year. I didn’t handle it very well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix all these different things about my performance, my pitching and trying to do it all in one go instead of just relaxing and remembering, ‘Hey, what am I here for? Why do I play the game?’”

Still, pitching coach Don Cooper wanted to see what he had in his young prospect. So last February, he scheduled him to make his White Sox debut against the Cubs in front of a packed house in Mesa.

“It was kind of like a challenge," Giolito said. "They fill the stadium over there. I’m like, ‘Alright here we go."

Giolito gave up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings against the Cubs that day.

“I pitched OK," he said. "I think I gave up a home run to Addison Russell. At the same time, I remember that game like I was forcing things. I might have pitched okay, but I was forcing the ball over the plate instead of relaxing, trusting and letting it happen which is kind of my mantra now. I’m saying that all the time, just having confidence in yourself and letting it go.”

A conversation in midseason with Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty, suggested by Cooper, helped turn Giolito’s season around. The lesson for Giolito: whatever you have on the day you take the mound is what you have. Don’t force what isn’t there.

Fortunately for Giolito he has extra pitches in his arsenal, so if the curveball isn’t working (which it rarely did when he came up to the majors last season) he can go to his change-up, fastball, slider, etc.

It’s all part of the learning process, both on the mound and off it. Setbacks are coming. Giolito has already had his share. More will be on the way.

“You want to set expectations for yourself. You want to try and achieve great goals,” he said. “At the same time, it is a game of failure. There’s so much that you have to learn through experience whether that be success or failure. Especially going through the minor leagues. There’s so much that you have to learn and a lot of it is about development. It’s a crazy ride for sure.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: