Aaron Bummer

Chris Volstad earns first MLB victory in five seasons as White Sox top Astros

Chris Volstad earns first MLB victory in five seasons as White Sox top Astros

HOUSTON -- Two weeks ago Chris Volstad was focused on Hurricane Irma prep when the White Sox called to invite him to the majors. On Thursday night, he earned his first major league victory in more than five years as the White Sox defeated the Houston Astros 3-1 at Minute Maid Park.

Volstad, who had only made 10 big league appearances the previous four-plus seasons and spent all of 2017 at Triple-A Charlotte, allowed a run in 4 1/3 innings to pick up his first win since Sept. 10, 2012.

He hadn’t just shut it down after the Triple-A season ended, Volstad was actually shuttering his Jupiter, Fla. home and business the day the short-handed White Sox called.

“I was probably a little mentally shut down,” Volstad said. “But yeah, it’s kind of crazy how things can change. I guess it’s been about two weeks now. At home getting ready for a hurricane and then getting called back up to the big leagues.”

Volstad received word he might pitch early in Thursday’s game when a blister on Carson Fulmer’s right index finger worsened. Fulmer felt some discomfort after his Friday start at Detroit.

The White Sox let Fulmer try to go but yanked him after 20 pitches, including two walks. That brought out Volstad, who along with Al Alburquerque was promoted Sept. 10 after the White Sox lost several pitchers to injury.

The White Sox actually had to track Volstad down two weeks ago as he’d already been home for a week. He spent part of the time prepping for Irma, including boarding up his brewery.

He escaped a first-inning jam with a double play ball of the bat of Carlos Correa and ended a threat in the second with a pickoff at second base of Alex Bregman. After he surrendered a solo homer to Brian McCann in the third, Volstad retired the final eight men he faced.

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He was awarded his first victory since he defeated Thursday’s Astros starter Dallas Keuchel 1,836 days ago here. Volstad remembered the win because Houston was still in the National League and he had a base hit in the five-inning start for the Cubs. He went 3-12 for the Cubs that season.

“You’re able to lock it in pretty quickly and get focused at the big-league level, you have to,” Volstad said. “But being home in Triple-A for the last few years, just getting called up about 10 days ago, I’ve got people following it, but it’s kind of unknown I guess. It’s a little surprising, but I’m glad to be a part of a team for sure.”

Fulmer, Volstad, Jace Fry, Mike Pelfrey, Gregory Infante, Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar and Juan Minaya combined on a three-hitter for the White Sox. Tim Anderson extended his hit streak to 12 games with a ninth-inning solo homer, his 17th.

Tim Anderson will honor slain friend during Players Weekend

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Tim Anderson will honor slain friend during Players Weekend

Some guys chose their hometown.

Other players went with watered down nicknames playing off their real names.

When Tim Anderson chose his nickname for Players Weekend, he opted to honor deceased friend, Branden Moss. The White Sox shortstop couldn’t think of a more fitting acknowledgement for his close friend, who was shot and killed on May 7 near the University of Alabama campus. Players across the majors will wear jerseys with their chosen nicknames across the back on the weekend of Aug. 25-27.

“When I first heard about it, it’s the first thing that came to my head,” Anderson said. “Just thought I definitely want to pay tribute to him. He definitely motivates me and someone I played the game for.”

White Sox players chose a variety of options for their nicknames. Catcher Kevan Smith preferred to use “Ripper” but said Major League Baseball suggested he might get flack for its proximity to serial killer Jack The Ripper. Smith settled on “Szmydth” instead, which was his family’s surname before his grandparents immigrated to the United States from Poland.

Rookie pitcher Aaron Bummer isn’t sure what his nickname would be but said his last name often is used anyway, that or “Bum.”

Alen Hanson went with “El Chamaquito,” which translated to “The Kid.” Gregory Infante said he’s always been called “El Meteorico,” or “The Meteor.” Leury Garcia only recently picked up “El Molleto,” or “The Muscle,” after Michael Ynoa began to call him that.

Yolmer Sanchez said he has too many nicknames and decided to go with his hometown, El Del Penonal. Jose Abreu also opted for his home, Mal Tiempo as did Miguel Gonzalez (El Jaliscience).

Adam Engel put his daughter Clarke’s name on the back of his while Chris Beck went with the nickname his younger siblings gave him, “Bubba.”

Though he could have gone with something as simple as Timmy, Anderson wanted to pay his respect to Moss, whose death has affected him greatly. Anderson and Moss were close enough to be brothers. Anderson said he still talks to Moss’s mother all the time.

“It lets people know how much he meant to me,” Anderson said. “Very special in my life. He just kept me going. He was such a happy person. It’s always good to pay tribute to someone who was so great in your life.”

Aaron Bummer on what it's like to get called up to the majors

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USA TODAY

Aaron Bummer on what it's like to get called up to the majors

For Aaron Bummer, Thursday was far from a bummer.

While experience continues to pour out the door of the White Sox clubhouse, new opportunities arise with those exits. For the White Sox, openings seem to be arriving every other day and Bummer is the latest to get a chance after Dan Jennings was traded was the Tampa Bay Rays for minor-leaguer Casey Gillaspie on Thursday morning. Jennings is the sixth player traded by the White Sox since July 13 and the fourth reliever.

A left-handed reliever, Bummer started 2017 at Advanced-A Winston-Salem and on Thursday received his third promotion of the season, joining the White Sox before the finale of the Crosstown Cup. Bummer, who missed all of 2015 after he had Tommy John surgery, couldn’t quite believe he was standing in the White Sox clubhouse.

“It’s been kind of a crazy 15 months because about 12 months ago is when I made my debut back from TJ,” Bummer said. “Twelve months ago I was in rookie ball so it’s kind of a crazy turn of events. Could I have ever imagined this, absolutely not.

“To be here right now is unbelievable and an awesome feeling.”

The No. 28 prospect in the White Sox farm system, Bummer posted a 3.31 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 49 innings between Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. Bummer’s fastball grades at 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, sitting between 95-97 mph and touching 99, according to MLBPipeline.com. He also features a 55-grade slider.

The one area that scouts suggest Bummer needs to answer is control as he’s walked 20 batters this season.

“You have to allow them to be who they are,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s still 90 feet to the bases, 60 feet, 6 inches to the bases. It’s kind of a cliché, the Hoosiers rule, it’s the same. “You have to go out and execute pitches and trust the skillset and do it.”

Bummer’s great experience began when he learned the news of his promotion late Wednesday. He awoke his parents, who flew in to Chicago on Thursday, with the news and also told his girlfriend he was headed for the majors.

“it was a whole bundle of emotions for all of us,” Bummer said. “I’ve never been in something like this. I know a lot of these guys since Spring Training. And kind of had that bond and that vibes we are all together and these guys are all good teammates and everybody is pulling for each other. At the end of the day we are all here to win games and hopefully we can do that.”