He may still be adapting to his new environment, but Derek Holland has already felt comfortable enough to be himself.
The newest White Sox starting pitcher spent part of Thursday afternoon on the phone with season-ticket holders to thank them for their patronage. More than a few were treated to the left-hander's impersonation of former White Sox and Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray. Though Holland, who is in town for SoxFest this weekend, had never called fans during his 10 professional seasons with the Texas Rangers, he felt as if his boisterous impression of the legendary play-by-play man would go over well. Even if it didn't, Holland wanted to have fun.
"This is new," Holland said. "Coming from Texas we never called any of the fans. It's cool, it's something all organizations should do. These are the people who make you what you are. It's not taking too much time to sit and say thank you and to interact with these fans. That's what it's all about. I'm lucky to be in this situation and very happy for it.
"That's just me. It's my personality. That's the way I am. I am going to try and bring as much life as I can to the clubhouse. I like to have fun, but when it's time to work, it's time to work."
A draft-and-follow pick in 2006, Holland, 30, had been with Texas since the franchise signed him in May 2007. While injuries limited him to 38 appearances (35 starts) the past three seasons, Holland has an entire career's worth of great memories with the Rangers. Included in that bunch is four division titles and three postseason victories, including a gem in Game 4 of the 2011 World Series, the only Fall Classic contest Holland has ever started.
In other words, switching teams hasn't been that easy. But Holland expects to feel a little bit more like a member of the White Sox when he puts on a jersey for the first time on Friday.
"To jump to another team it takes a little bit," Holland said. "One of the things I've been asked from my parents is ‘Has it hit you yet that you're not a Ranger any more?' Now that I'm here and once I put on the jersey tomorrow to wear, then it's really going to settle in and realize this is it, it's a new beginning and new chapter and we're going to make the best of it."
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Part of Holland's effort is likely to include a few more impersonations of Caray. The Newark, Ohio-native has done the voice for years. He improved it when ex-Cub Ryan Dempster was a teammate.
As Holland sees it, it's just another way to relax in his new home.
"You just have to have fun," Holland said. "That's the thing I've learned playing this game, you have to live in the moment and enjoy yourself. Live in the moment and have fun with it because once it's gone it's gone. I want to be who I am, not be somebody I'm not. Just because I have a personality I shouldn't be anything different from what I am on the field. I work hard, I play hard, but at the end of the day I'm going to have a personality, too."