Nick Delmonico earned this proud achievement, and it couldn’t have gone any better.
The newest member of the White Sox arrived on Tuesday afternoon and made his major league debut in an 8-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. Promoted from Triple-A Charlotte in the wake of Willy Garcia going on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion, Delmonico went 1-for-4 in the losing effort. But even the final score wasn’t enough to take away from a banner day for the White Sox rookie after everything he endured to reach this point. Delmonico’s arrival in the big leagues comes nearly two and a half years after he quit baseball entirely.
“It kind of flashes before your eyes, everything that you’ve done to get here,” Delmonico said. “It’s just a great moment. I’m trying to take everything in. I tried to text all the people that I could text. And then you’ve got to worry about a game tonight.
“It feels amazing. It’s something that I can’t describe. I’m the happiest boy in the world right now.”
The promotion is an equally proud moment for third-base coach Nick Capra and assistant general manager Buddy Bell. The pair took a chance on Delmonico in 2015 when they convinced the White Sox to sign him to a minor league deal. Delmonico had asked for his release from the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014. He had previously served a 50-game suspension while with the Brewers for using Aderall.
Delmonico didn’t start playing for the White Sox until June 2015 at Class-A Kannapolis but performed well every step of the way since. That included making a strong impression on the White Sox this spring, where manager Rick Renteria said Delmonico had an infectious personality.
“Nicky is a pretty energetic kid full of energy,” Renteria said. “I think he connects with all of his teammates very, very well. He’s a gamer. I think we saw that in the spring. He worked extremely hard.”
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Part of that work involved Delmonico moving around the diamond to provide versatility. A third baseman his entire career, Delmonico played first base and left field this spring. The White Sox also liked his left-handed bat and the power he can provide. Delmonico backed up his spring performance at Charlotte, hitting .262/.347/.421 with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs in 429 plate appearances.
When he arrived at the park on Tuesday he met with Bell in his office and then spoke to Capra, who previously was the franchise’s farm director.
“When we brought him in we knew he had the talent,” Capra said. “I don’t know if we were quite sure that it would happen. But with all the hard work and effort and diligence he has gone through, he deserves it.
“It’s a terrific story. The kid came a long way from where he was and he had a lot of ambition to get this done and he’s done it.
“It’s just amazing to see the transformation from the moment we got him to now. Obviously in the clubhouse, as a teammate, in the field, putting up the numbers, to be able to get here, we couldn’t be happier for this kid.”
Delmonico only perfected his debut in the eighth inning when he dumped a one-out single to center field for his first major league hit.
The hit in his fourth at-bat broke an early streak of bad luck. The left-hander grounded into a fielder’s choice in the fourth inning on a ball that had 39 percent chance of being a hit, according to BaseballSavant.MLB.com. Delmonico said Toronto first baseman Justin Smoak patted him on the back and apologized after taking the hit away.
Two innings later, Delmonico grounded out hard to second base, a ball that had a 52 percent chance of being a hit. It wasn’t until he parachuted a Ryan Tepera pitch into center field in front of a charging Kevin Pillar that Delmonico picked up the hit. Delmonico, who played in front of a number of friends and family, got a standing ovation for his hit from the home crowd.
“The whole game, from start to finish, it was awesome,” Delmonico said. “It was a dream come true. I’m very fortunate to have this day and to have my family out to watch.”