White Sox

'Phil'ing in: Humber the toast of Sox clubhouse

'Phil'ing in: Humber the toast of Sox clubhouse

Sunday, April 10, 2011Posted: 1:05 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

When Phil Humber woke up on Saturday morning, it was like any other day for the young righthanderaside from the jitters accompanying his third-ever major league start (first with the Chicago White Sox) and an incessantly-buzzing cell phone piling up with well-wishing texts from friends and family.

By the time he went to bed after a 4-2 triumph after some modest and heartfelt celebration, Humbers prospects on the South Side had leaped ahead by bounds.

READ: Humber makes his best pitch, hurls gem over Rays

It's exciting, Humber said. I was going out there trying to get the team a win. It wasn't about me, it was about the Chicago White Sox. I was thankful I was able to go six solid innings and continue from there.

I couldnt have been any happier for Phil in his first start here, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. His first start with the White Sox, to come out in Chicago and to throw the way he did was awesome. Im so happy for him. Hes a great guy and has great stuff. He always just needed an opportunity, and hes going to get it here for a little while. So, we will see what he can do.

In a strange twist of fate, one of Humbers career starts came against the White Sox, in the first game of last years bizarro night doubleheader at Kansas City. He battled through a rough 5 23 innings in that game, giving up nine hits and five earned runs, but Kd six Chisox and earned the 6-5 win. In his one earlier start, a Sept. 26, 2007 start for the New York Mets vs. the Washington Nationals, Humber escaped without a loss but was scraped a bit, throwing four innings and giving up six hits, five earned runs, and two walks against no strikeouts. For his career heading into yesterdays effort, Humber was 1-0 with a 9.31 ERA and 2.17 WHIP.

I've had plenty of chances, said the former No. 3 overall pick (2004). It's just relaxing and allowing yourself to get out of the way. A lot of times, I put too much pressure on myself.

WATCH: Humber's reaction on the first start of his career for White Sox
So really, theres no real explanation for how the former first-rounder performed so beyond expectations with his gem of a win. In the spring, after all, Humber pitched mostly well enough not to lose, rather than going out and stealing the No. 5 rotation spot with a golden Cactus League.

His biggest thing is in spring training he has been behind in the count and having to pitch in, Pierzynski said. But today he was ahead of the count and he was able to use his curveball, which is one of the better curves Ive seen. He threw some good changeups to get some outs. He moved the ball around with his fastball. He established his fastball enough to make his curve ball effective.

There was only one righthander against me in the lineup, so I threw my changeup quite a bit and used the curveball when I needed to, Humber said. I located the fastball and didn't shake A. J. off but once or twice.

Now, the White Sox are left with the delightful proposition of slowing down Jake Peavys minor league rehabilitation if need beas well as having a sneak ace in the No. 5 hole of the rotation.

If they give me the ball, I'm going to go out there and do the best I can with it, take it one day at a time, Humber said, looking toward next Friday vs. the Los Angeles Angels. If I get another start, then I'll treat it the same way.

Suddenly, rather than being tucked away on a minor league bus, lucky to get a sentence-long mention on a major-league scoreboards Farm Report, Humber finds himself on sports highlights coast-to-coast and is the toast of the White Sox clubhouse. But in case you think Humber was happy with just a six-inning win, think againthe college ace has higher expectations.

You can go a complete game or something like that, he said, laughing over whether his win was as good a game as he could imagine having. It could have been better, pitch a shutout or something like that. But I wasnt thinking about results, other than I want to throw at least six or seven. Having A.J. back there helps you relaxhe knows what hes doing, hes been around a long time, and hes faced the same lineup two games already. It was fun.

If there was anything Humber was thinking of as he gritted his teeth and focused through the best game of his major league career, it was those people who were with him in the tough times, now around to celebrate the good.

Hopefully a lot of people got to see the game, on a weekend and everything, Humber said. Its been kind of a long road to this point, but its made me better as a person and a player. So Im thankful, basically.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Potential White Sox target comes off board as Madison Bumgarner signs with Diamondbacks

Potential White Sox target comes off board as Madison Bumgarner signs with Diamondbacks

Having already lost out on Zack Wheeler, the White Sox can now scratch another free agent pitcher off the list of potential targets.

Sunday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the Diamondbacks are nearing a five-year deal with former Giants star Madison Bumgarner worth $85 million.

The White Sox weren’t heavily rumored to be pursuing Bumgarner and signing him was somewhat unrealistic. Although the South Siders are looking to add a starting pitcher or two this winter, Bumgarner enjoys hitting and therefore seemed more likely to sign with a National League team. The 30-year-old’s career OPS is .532 but he’s hit 19 homers in 11 seasons.

Adding Bumgarner would have provided the South Siders a veteran starter — one with an excellent postseason track record — to mix with their young rotation featuring Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease. With MadBum off the board, the list of major free agent pitchers continues to shrink. 

Lefties Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu are still available, but other teams that missed out on Bumgarner will shift their focus to the duo. Consequently, the White Sox will face stiff competition if they wish to sign either pitcher. Both were expected to be more affordable than Bumgarner but interested teams may be willing to offer more money to ensure they don’t come out of free agency empty-handed.

Where the White Sox turn next is to be determined. What's certain is they're running out of free agent options to upgrade their rotation.

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Indians signal big shift with trade of Corey Kluber

kluber-1215.jpg
USA TODAY

Indians signal big shift with trade of Corey Kluber

The Indians have won more than 90 games in each of the past four seasons, with three AL Central titles in that span, but big changes are coming in Cleveland.

With rumors of a Francisco Lindor trade still floating around, the Indians have dealt two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to Texas. The return package from the Rangers includes outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. and reliever Emmanuel Clase.


DeShields Jr. is a 27-year-old speedster who has struggled offensively since debuting with the Rangers in 2015. He has a career .668 OPS with a .591 OPS in 2018 and a .672 OPS last season. For comparison, White Sox outfielder Adam Engel had a .614 OPS in 2018 and a .687 OPS in 2019.

Clase is a 21-year-old righthander who debuted with the Rangers last season. He is a hard-thrower, capable of reaching 102 mph with his fastball while also getting cut action on it. Clase had a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings in the majors in 2019. Still, he is only rated as the No. 30 prospect in the Rangers’ system by MLB Pipeline.

The Kluber trade is relevant to the White Sox because it’s a division power trading away a key player for younger, less established talent. It also shows the price to pay for a noteworthy pitcher in a trade.

If the White Sox fail to land a marquee starting pitcher in free agency, a trade is the next route.

The Kluber deal may have implications for the Cubs as well. Texas appears to be intent on competing with the Astros, A's and Angels in the AL West. The Rangers have been linked to free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson, and if he winds up in Texas, that would clarify possible trade partners for Kris Bryant.

Back in the AL Central, Kluber was a stud for the Indians from 2014-2018. He surpassed 200 innings each of those seasons and had a 2.85 ERA in that five-year period.

Last season, however, Kluber was limited to 35.2 innings in seven starts after getting hit by a line drive on May 1, which fractured his right arm. Even before the injury, the 33-year-old righthander struggled with a 5.80 ERA and the highest walk rate of his career (15 in 35.2 innings).

The Indians didn’t win the AL Central last season, but the fact that they won 93 games with only seven mostly ineffective starts from Kluber is a sign that he may not be as essential as he was in previous years.

Perhaps the return for Kluber is more a sign of a lack of belief in him after a tough 2019, but this level of package is something the White Sox could put together without trading a core piece of the future.

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