White Sox

Carson Fulmer credits David Price's advice for smooth first week of camp

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Carson Fulmer credits David Price's advice for smooth first week of camp

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.

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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.

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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.”

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”