NEW YORK -- It doesn’t matter that Matt Purke didn’t learn about his promotion until very late, his family made it to Yankee Stadium anyway.
Shortly after the White Sox informed him they would purchase his contract, a move the left-hander said Friday he didn’t see coming, Purke passed word along to his family in Nacogdoches, Texas. Even though it’s halfway across the country, more than 10 friends and family found last-minute flights to come to potentially see Purke’s major league debut. A third-round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2011, Purke said he’s experienced a variety of emotions in the 24 hours since he learned he’d join the White Sox.
“Just a sense of accomplishment, excitement and anxiety,” Purke said. “All the emotions come through. The biggest thing is that you’ve achieved your goal. We’ve been playing this game since we were four and five years old, 20 years later I finally made it to where I wanted to be. It’s just a wonderful feeling. I’m truly blessed to be here.”
Originally drafted 14th overall by the Texas Rangers in 2009, Purke opted for college at Texas Christian University. Until this season, Purke -- who replaces Scott Carroll, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte -- has mostly been a starter in the minors as 45 of 59 appearances have come in that role. While he’s only made one start this season, Purke has pitched multiple innings in six of 10 games. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Purke could be used as a long man or even as a situational lefty given how many left-handed hitters the Yankees’ lineup features.
“You get some length out of him,” Ventura said. “Matty provides some of that, to be able to do that. I think especially these guys, with the lefties that they do have, a lot of switch-hitters. But with the lefties they have and as short as it is to right field, it’s good to have him.”
Purke’s just glad his family, a group that includes his “mom, dad, brother, his wife, niece and nephew, my wife, her parents and some other family and friends that are close to us,” can be here to celebrate with him. He never knew if he’d reach the majors and yet here he is at Yankee Stadium, only 24 hours after he was with Charlotte in Norfolk, Va.
“It’s what we play for and my dream of being a professional baseball player in the big leagues finally came true,” Purke said. “It was a very exciting moment for me, my family and everyone who has been a part of this journey. It’s been a long one. It hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t been short and now it’s time to enjoy it.”
The White Sox added Purke to the 40-man, which is now at 39.
The club learned it lost catcher Hector Sanchez to a waiver claim on Wednesday to the San Diego Padres, which leaves it short-handed behind the plate. Kevan Smith is still recovering from an April 25 back injury that landed him on the disabled list. Ventura said Omar Narvaez is likely next on the list were the White Sox to need a catcher.