White Sox

On the Farm: Gilmore comfortable with Sox

On the Farm: Gilmore comfortable with Sox

Friday, Aug. 6, 2010
3:10 PM

By Kevin T. Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

Jon Gilmore admits that 2009 was a bit of a tumultuous season for him. It was his first year with the White Sox and he was pushing just a bit too hard in an effort to impress his new team, the one that had traded for him in December 2008.

Gilmore, whom Atlanta made the 33rd overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was just beginning to feel as if he fit in with the Braves, that he belonged at the time of the deal. He had spent a year and a half in Atlantas system, hit .291 over that stretch and rose out of the Gulf Coast League to the South Atlantic League in just over a season, offering glimpses of the hitter the Braves figured he would become after they expended such a lofty pick to get him.

Then came that early December day in 2008 when he learned that he had been traded to the White Sox, along with Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge and Santos Rodriguez. The Braves, seeking to recapture some of the glory they experienced through much of the 90s, picked up Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan in the deal.

It really surprised me, Gilmore, 21, said of the deal. I know that it is part of the game. My brother-in-law Ben Zobrist got traded, too. So it means that someone wants you. But it was a surprise.

And last year, after I got traded, I wanted to make a good impression on the team that I got traded, too. That was a big part of last year. I had just gotten comfortable with the Braves and had just gotten comfortable with their staff. It was a huge change and I was starting the process over. So I put a lot of pressure on myself early on to show them who I was.

Gilmore began the season by going 0-for-18 and 5-for-48 before leveling off. The third baseman ended up hitting .274 with 67 RBIs for Kannapolis, solid numbers for the South Atlantic League but not the type of numbers expected of a top draft pick.

This season, well, lets just say things have been a little different. Gilmore is leading or close to leading the Carolina League in several categories at Winston-Salem. Hes leading the league in hits (151), at-bats (450) and games played (106). Gilmore is second on the circuit in hitting (.336) -- hes one of three WS players in the top five in that category -- and is third in runs scored 68 and fourth in total bases 190.

Heading into Fridays action, Gilmore was also riding a six-game hitting streak during which he was hitting .375 9-for-24.

Im just confident in myself this season, Gilmore said. I did a lot of work and I found a comfortable swing and I have been able to repeat it during the course of the season. It helps when youre doing well and you have that consistent swing. Ive tweaked a little bit and it has helped a lot. Ive had a good swing all year.

Ive had three or four different swings the last few years and this year Ive stayed with the same approach on my swing all year and it has helped. I have pregame stuff that I work on and I take a lot of pride in that, having the same approach every day. It really helps over the course of the season.

Gilmore added that having former big-leaguer Joe McEwing as his manager has made a big difference as well. Super Joe was a scrapper during his playing days and earned his nickname as a result of his hard work, approach and determination to show up at the park every day ready to contribute.

McEwing has imparted some of that approach on Gilmore over the last four-plus months.

When he talks, you want to listen and learn from a guy like that, Gilmore said.

Folks should be listening to Gilmore before long. Theyre already watching him and they are impressed. Dont be too surprised if he gets a taste of life in Birmingham before the season is over if for no other reason that to spice up what has been a miserable season for the Barons.

The management of the White Sox has a plan for everyone, Gilmore said. Im just going to do what they tell me. The only thing I can do is keep playing well and to the best of my ability and let them make the decision for me.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Charlie Tilson plays in Detroit for first time since getting injured in his MLB debut

Charlie Tilson plays in Detroit for first time since getting injured in his MLB debut

For over two years, Charlie Tilson was starting to look like his own version of "Moonlight" Graham, the player made famous in the movie "Field of Dreams" because he played in one major league game and never got to bat.

The White Sox traded for Tilson just before the trade deadline passed in 2016. Two days later he made his big league debut with the White Sox in Detroit. He got a single in his first at-bat, but left the game with an injury and missed the rest of the season. Tilson also missed all of the 2017 season and his MLB future was starting to come into question.

Back healthy, Tilson started this season in Triple-A Charlotte and hit .248 in 39 games when he got called up to replace Leury Garcia, who was placed on the disabled list. On Thursday, Tilson returned to a big league field for the first time in more than 20 months. He went 0-for-3 in a loss to Baltimore.

Friday marked a return to the site of Tilson's big league debut and the injury that made it such a brief stint. Tilson has now played three big league games, over the course of nearly 21 months, and two of them have been in Detroit.

Tilson went 1-for-4, meaning both his hits are in Comerica Park. The White Sox lost 5-4 after giving up three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.