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.

[MORE: Jimmy Rollins likes opportunity to 'fight for a position' with White Sox]

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.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, White Sox fans!]

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.”

Sox Drawer Q&A: Is this the White Sox 'Jon Lester' offseason?

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USA TODAY

Sox Drawer Q&A: Is this the White Sox 'Jon Lester' offseason?

Back for another round of questions here in the Sox Drawer. Let's go.

Q: Do you believe this is the Sox "Lester" offseason where they make a large investment in a player for the future? Or are we still one year away from seeing this? — @BCurley3

CG: That's a question many White Sox fans are wondering about. And by the "Lester" signing, I assume you are referring to the likes of Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. I'd like to think that if the White Sox have a desire to sign a big-name free agent, they will make every attempt to do it now and not wait for the 2020 free agents, even if it's coming off a 100-loss season. As general manager Rick Hahn put it in his season-ending press conference, "You can't always control when certain players become available. You can say in 2020 or 2021 we expect to be this, and we know we are going to need X. You can't look at the projected free agent and say that player will be available, much less that player will be a White Sox when the time comes." It might turn out that the White Sox don't sign that marquee free agent this offseason, but going off what Hahn said, I believe they will go all-in when their targeted "Jon Lester" is available.

Q: If you had your choice, would the White Sox sign Manny Machado or Nolan Arenado? — @Dehhmac_

CG: I'll take either. Arenado gets the edge defensively. Machado has the advantage offensively. One stat about Arenado that gives me some pause is his career home/away splits. At Coors Field, he's slashing .320/.374/.609. Away from Coors Field, he's at .263/.318/.469. He's still a great player, but his numbers are inflated due to the higher elevation in Denver. If they don't sign him to a contract extension this winter, I'm curious to see if the Rockies listen to trade offers during the Winter Meetings like the Orioles did with Machado last year. The Rockies are much more competitive than the Orioles, so they might decide to go for it one more time with Arenado. If not, a crazy Winter Meetings just got crazier.

Q: I have long expected this to be the offseason when the Sox start signing free agents. However, lately, I've heard about possible big-name trade potentials. Do you expect trades this early in the rebuild or mainly acquisition through free agency? — @ToddHertz

CG: At some point, the White Sox will probably dip into their farm system to acquire major league upgrades where they see fit. Because there were so many injuries to prospects last season, I'm not sure they've seen enough to know exactly what they have to make those kind trades just yet. However, the one position in the minors where they seem very deep right now is in the outfield. That could be an area they could subtract from to add elsewhere. I think the White Sox timed their rebuild very well with free agency. Last year's lackluster free-agent class was a great time to be on the sidelines. The next two winters will have much better talent available. The White Sox don't have much on the books and will be in a good financial position to make upgrades.

Q: After Eloy comes up in April who's the next guy in waiting and when does he come up? —  @franknacchio19

CG: With two open spots in the rotation, we could see a few prospects compete for starting jobs in spring training. Jordan Guerrero, Jordan Stephens and Spencer Adams are possibilities. All three of them finished the season at Charlotte and could be close to knocking on the door. The next big name after that would seemingly be Dylan Cease, who if he continues to pitch like he did this past season will probably be on the Michael Kopech timeline to the majors, and Kopech came up in August.

Q: If the rumors are true and the Diamondbacks dismantle their roster, which player on their roster makes sense for this White Sox team long term? —  @mr_zablocki

Q: Who would you hypothetically trade for Goldshmidt? — @DaRealScaletta​​​​​​​

CG: Looking at the Diamondbacks' roster, there aren't many natural fits with the White Sox rebuild. Where's the All-Star third baseman on a rebuilding team with a four-year, team-friendly contract? I like Zack Greinke, but he's going to be 35-years-old and has three years and $104 million left on his contract. A 27-year-old Robbie Ray would be solid, but he's under team control for only two more years. Paul Goldschmidt is an all-world first baseman with three Gold Gloves, but he's a free agent after next season. Depending on what the White Sox do with Jose Abreu, who also has one year left on his contract, maybe they go after Goldschmidt next offseason if they don't re-sign Abreu.

Q: Tell a Yolmer story. — @NJBooth20

CG: Yolmer was wearing this cool T-shirt in the clubhouse this past season. On the front, it said "play hard" with a photo of him making Mickey Mouse ears. On the back it said "have fun," and there's the photo of him pouring Gatorade all over himself. I asked him if I could have one of those T-shirts. He said, "50 dollars." I countered with, "How about 30?" With perfect comedic timing, Yolmer came back with, "Make it 10." He might not be the best bargainer in the world, but Yolmer Sanchez is definitely one of the funniest people around.

Q: Why did Nagy run the ball on 3rd and 4?? — @rypie182​​​​​​​

CG: Not sure.

Q: Can I leave a voicemail? Too drunk to tweet. — @HurriKayne26​​​​​​​

CG: Rough Bears game.

Q: Who will be the biggest surprise and/or the greatest improvement for next season's team? — @nicklicious33​​​​​​​

CG: Good question. If he's able to come back, I can think of one person in particular who would be quite an incredible surprise in 2019. That's Danny Farquhar. At home in California recovering from his near-death brain aneurysm, Farquhar is training with the hopes of pitching in the majors again, possibly as soon as 2019. I wouldn't put it past him. He's a special person who has been defying the odds since that horrific night in April. It would be great to see!

Thanks again for all of your questions. We'll do it again next week.

Sorry, White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

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USA TODAY

Sorry, White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.