GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He may have been nervous and uncertain about how his first few days in the clubhouse would go. But Carson Fulmer’s relationship with All-Star pitcher David Price -- a strong bond created by their ties as alumni of the Vanderbilt University baseball program -- had the White Sox prospect better prepared for what to expect during his first week in big league camp.
After a recent conversation with Price, Fulmer, the No. 8 overall pick of the 2015 amateur draft, had an even better sense of what’s appropriate and what isn’t inside a major league clubhouse. Fulmer said Price’s advice has been an immense help throughout his first week of camp.
“Just don’t do too much,” Fulmer said. “I talked to him a few weeks ago prior to coming in here and he said not to do too much and really just enjoy the experience and soak it up as much as you can.”
Price isn’t the only MLB player Fulmer considers a mentor.
When asked about Price, who signed a $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox this offseason, Fulmer also identified Oakland’s Sonny Gray and free agent Pedro Alvarez as two recent Vanderbilt players who have offered the program’s current players advice that extends beyond cordial. Last summer, Price attended a Vanderbilt game during its College World Series run and he and the others routinely return to the Nashville-based campus to work out during the offseason.
Fulmer credits Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin for the creation of a program that’s dividends go far beyond the normal college experience.
“All those guys that come back, they’re so influential in our development because we can apply stories through them,” Fulmer said. “It really helps us develop as a player knowing what to expect at the next level and during the college process. It’s like brother figures to us. Obviously, they’re like superstars but are very, very down to earth and very personable. I’m very thankful to be in a culture like that.”
Fulmer said Price’s involvement went even further. Price confirmed it last July at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati. He said he kept close tabs on the future first-rounder and his performance throughout the season and offered advice when he could. Price is impressed with how Fulmer, who won the SEC’s pitching Triple Crown last season, handled his time in the spotlight.
“For him to be able to do that knowing he was a top-10 pick all year long, that lets you know he put all that to the side,” Price said in July. “He didn’t worry about it. He had a couple of bad games early in the year and I would always talk to him about it and he’d come back the next Friday and he would dominate. When you see a guy like that, the position he’s in, that lets you know how focused he is and that’s good to see that.”
Fulmer knew about Vanderbilt’s culture when he signed on to play there. But it’s even better than he expected, especially when it came to Price.
“He was so in tune with everything and, not only me, but a lot of the other guys,” Fulmer said. “He has so many things to worry about, but the fact that he took time and helped us along the way speaks so much about who he is. The more I got to know him, the more things I would run through him and it definitely would help me a lot.”
In this instance, Price gave Fulmer a sense of how to properly conduct himself in a clubhouse full of big leaguers.
The general advice has helped Fulmer through an interesting and entertaining week of firsts.
Fulmer admits he was a little excited for Alex Avila to catch his first bullpen session. Avila used to train with the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., Fulmer’s hometown and he’s a player the pitcher liked to watch.
Fulmer also has enjoyed several conversations with fellow Lakelander Chris Sale on the sideline.
And on Thursday, Fulmer handled a round of rookie treatment with aplomb. In order to make room for veteran Jimmy Rollins, the White Sox moved Fulmer’s clubhouse stall from a plush locale with nobody on his right side to a crowded slot in between several veterans.
“He’s a good guy to get replaced for,” said Fulmer, who noted he looks forward to meeting Rollins.
Clearly, Fulmer’s makeup, which the White Sox believe is outstanding, has been the biggest guide through the past week. But he believes Price’s advice has had a significant impact.
“It’s definitely helped me at least throughout the first couple of days here in camp,” Fulmer said. “It’s hard to do when you come in and you’re a rookie and whatnot. But just being able to trust that, and really taking his advice has been so beneficial in so many ways.”