White Sox

Carson Fulmer adjusts to bullpen role with White Sox

Carson Fulmer adjusts to bullpen role with White Sox

He hasn’t worked as consistently as a reliever as he might as a starting pitcher. But the White Sox think Carson Fulmer has received experience invaluable to whatever role they use him in the future.

Fulmer pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in Sunday’s loss, which brings him to a total of 8 2/3 frames since he was promoted last month. The club thinks the combination of figuring out how to stay sharp with irregular work as well as getting outs in the big leagues will have Fulmer better prepared for next season. Fulmer has a 9.35 ERA in seven games with six walks and seven strikeouts.

“That’s a guy you want to master the one inning first before you can sit there and think he can give you seven or eight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s a time to learn, to gain some experience while you’re up here and the guys that you’re facing and what you need to do to survive up here. I think that’s just as important as being stretched out. He can get valuable experience an inning at a time.”

Scouts are often divided on whether Fulmer’s future is in the rotation or in the bullpen. Fulmer has said he’s fine with either and isn’t concerned about making the transition to a relief role after spending all of college as a starting pitcher. He throws with enough frequency on his own to think his arm is capable of recovering from daily use.

But for now, Fulmer’s biggest transition is staying sharp despite infrequent use. He has pitched seven times in 24 days and faced a total of 41 batters. Were he to have remained in the minors, Fulmer likely would have made five starts and faced roughly 125 batters. As the White Sox see it, the trade off is the cost of major league experience.

“He does benefit from facing big league hitters,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He does benefit from working with (Don Cooper and Bobby Thigpen) on the side up here and all the extras we have here to help him improve and understand the areas he needs to get better. At the same time, he obviously is not getting regular work and you want a player like that to not miss out on an element of the development that comes with regular work. So it is a bit of a balancing act.”

It’s an act to which Fulmer is still acclimating.

Fulmer’s appearance Sunday was his first in five days. Though the best advice he has received is to only “throw when you need to,” idle periods call for work to stay sharp. Therefore, Fulmer hasn’t hesitated to head to the bullpen for a work session with Cooper and Thigpen. He realizes it’s all part of getting accustomed to a role with which he has grown increasingly relaxed.

“I feel like more than anything it’s just that you have to be comfortable,” Fulmer said. “Obviously I’m not really comfortable with the role that I’m in because I haven’t done it very much. But the more reps I get, the more comfortable I’m going to get, and I’m definitely feeling that now.

“I love it. I haven’t really done it that much, but I like that situation.”

Zack Burdi is pitching off a mound again

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USA TODAY

Zack Burdi is pitching off a mound again

Zack Burdi was thought of as a college pitcher who could make the major leagues quickly after he was drafted in 2016.

The White Sox drafted him 26th overall that year and it appeared his quick rise through the minors was going to come true. Burdi reached Triple-A Charlotte by the end of 2016 and had a 2.25 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 16 innings with the Knights.

However, he had Tommy John surgery in July and hasn't pitched in more than 11 months. The 23-year-old from Downers Grove is nearing his return and had video proof.

That's Burdi throwing off a mound, which means a rehab stint might not be far behind. Burdi may not getting into the full swing of things before the minor league season ends in early September, but this is a good sign for him being ready to go for spring training in 2019.

Before going on the disabled list, Burdi had a 4.05 ERA with 51 strikeouts and 17 walks in 33 1/3 innings with the Knights in 2017.

Which NL team is the biggest threat to the Cubs, José Abreu (still) consistently playing well

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USA TODAY

Which NL team is the biggest threat to the Cubs, José Abreu (still) consistently playing well

Ozzie Guillen and Doug Glanville join Leila Rahimi to discuss what National League team is the biggest threat for the Cubs, possible minor league moves for the White Sox and if Addison Russell should be 'always ready' versus expecting an off day.

Plus, we go pregaming with Siera Santos.

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