White Sox

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

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USA TODAY

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.

After Astros cruised past White Sox, Justin Verlander wasn't at all happy with Tim Anderson

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USA TODAY

After Astros cruised past White Sox, Justin Verlander wasn't at all happy with Tim Anderson

The Houston Astros put a pretty good beating on the White Sox on Friday night, waltzing to a blowout 10-0 victory.

So why was the Astros’ starting pitcher so steamed after the game?

Justin Verlander, the future Hall of Famer who took a no-hit bid into the fifth Friday, was vocally upset with Tim Anderson, the White Sox shortstop who has been playing with a totally different attitude this season after his on-field struggles last season and the emotional effects he experienced while dealing with the death of his best friend.

Verlander lost his no-hitter on Anderson’s one-out base hit in the fifth inning, to which Anderson, whose mission this season is to have fun playing baseball, celebrated. But that celebration wasn’t what peeved Verlander. Instead it was Anderson’s attempt at stealing second base on a 3-0 count — and the subsequent celebration when the steal didn't count because of a walk — and his attempt at stealing third base shortly thereafter. That play went haywire, as Anderson was picked off, caught in a rundown, safely made it back to second but just as Omar Narvaez was arriving, making an out. The two exchanged words on the field after that play.

But remember that that’s another one of Anderson’s missions this year: to steal more bases and get in opposing pitchers’ heads with what he's doing on the base paths.

Well, he sure got Verlander’s attention this time.

"I wasn’t upset with him being excited about getting a hit," Verlander told reporters after the game. "Hey, that’s baseball and you can be excited about getting a hit, he earned it. He steals on 3-0 in a 5-0 game, that’s probably not great baseball. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. But he celebrated that, though. And it’s like ‘Hey, I’m not worried about you right now. It’s 5-0, I’m giving a high leg kick, I know you can steal. If I don’t want you to steal, I’ll be a little bit more aware of you. But I’m trying to get this guy out at the plate.'

"Anyway, I walk (Narvaez), (Anderson) steals 3-0, kind of celebrates that at second base again. I don’t even know what he was celebrating, he didn’t even get credit for a stolen base. Maybe he thought he did, I don’t know.

"Then he makes, in my opinion, another bad baseball decision. Stealing third in a 5-0 game with two guys on in an inning where I was clearly struggling — I walked a guy on four pitches and went 1-0 to the next guy — and I pick you off on an inside move after the way he had kind of been jubilant about some other things, I was just as jubilant about that. Very thankful that he gave me an out. That’s what I said, and he didn’t like that comment but, hey, that’s not my fault, that’s his fault.

"I’m not going to let the situation dictate what I do out there, I’m going to slow everything down and that’s what veterans can do — see the game, play the game, play the game the right way. He was a little over-agressive and I let him know it. I took offense to it."

Why all this angered the Astros’ ace so much in the fifth inning of a 5-0 ballgame, that could be trickier to figure out. It sounds like another case of the “unwritten rules” of the game. But not being written down anywhere, it’s hard exactly to tell which rule or rules Anderson broke.

Told after the game that Verlander wasn’t very happy with him, Anderson didn’t seem to be too concerned about being on the wrong side of the all-time great hurler.

“That’s fine,” he said. “If that’s how I play, I’m having fun and it’s exciting.

“I don’t care what other people think, that don’t bother me.

“I’m out just playing and having fun. If he took it to heart, so what?”

If anything, it’s a sign that Anderson’s activity on the base paths could be working as intended, distracting opposing pitchers from what they’re trying to do to Anderson’s teammates at the plate.

But with the results what they were, it seems even more odd that Verlander would be so upset.

Whatever the reasoning, Anderson doesn’t care, so maybe we shouldn’t, either.

“No, it doesn’t bother me,” Anderson said before having a little fun with reporters who had him repeating his lack of concern. “Does it bother you?”

After passing out in White Sox dugout, pitcher Danny Farquhar taken to hospital during Friday's game

After passing out in White Sox dugout, pitcher Danny Farquhar taken to hospital during Friday's game

What happened on the field was of little importance by the time Friday night’s game wrapped up at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Thoughts were with White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar, who was carried out of the third-base dugout in the sixth inning and taken to the hospital.

Farquhar relieved James Shields in the top of the inning and pitched to four batters before heading to the dugout when it was his team’s turn to bat. During the bottom of the sixth, Farquhar passed out. A crowd gathered around him, and television replays showed him being carried out of the dugout by the team’s medical personnel and EMTs.

The White Sox announced a couple innings later that Farquhar was conscious and was undergoing further treatment and testing at the hospital.

"It takes your breath away a little bit. One of your guys is down there and you have no idea what’s going on," manager Rick Renteria said after the game. "I think everybody was allowing the people to take care of him take care of him. Everybody else just surrounded him to make sure they had the space to do what they needed to do. But I guess it’s the same with anybody when something happens to any individual you know, you want things to be done as quickly as possible. He was treated as quickly as we could. They had him there. They were taking care of him. They didn’t skip a beat"

"That was pretty scary, to be honest with you," Shields said. "I don't really know the full extent of the situation, to be honest with you. I do know he wasn't conscious when he left here. But from what I hearing right now, he's responding to questions and they're doing some further tests right now. So we're all praying for him."

"It’s really scary, man," pitcher Aaron Bummer said. "He’s in our thoughts and prayers. Hopefully everything is OK. We have a lot of questions and not many answers. But we can hope for the best and hope that he’s back with us tomorrow."

The 31-year-old Florida native is in his seventh season as a major leaguer and his second with the White Sox. They picked him up after he pitched in 37 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. He pitched 14.1 for the South Siders last year and logged eight innings in 2018, including the 0.2 innings he threw Friday night.