White Sox

White Sox promote Carson Fulmer, activate Justin Morneau to bolster roster

White Sox promote Carson Fulmer, activate Justin Morneau to bolster roster

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- More reinforcements have arrived for the White Sox.

Prior to their second-half opener on Friday, the team activated veteran hitter Justin Morneau off the 15-day disabled list and promoted top prospect Carson Fulmer.

Winners in five of their last six series, the White Sox open a six-game road trip at the Los Angeles Angels at 9:10 pm CST on Friday. They begin a three-game series at the Seattle Mariners on Monday.

The White Sox (45-43) trail the Cleveland Indians by seven games in the American League Central. They’re also fifth in the wild-card race, 4 1/ 2 games behind Boston and Toronto.

Morneau went 4-for-23 with two RBIs on a rehab assignment between Triple-A Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham. The first baseman also drew four walks had a .321 on-base percentage on the assignment, his first live action since last season. Morneau, who had elbow surgery on Dec. 22, thought he’d need between 20-30 plate appearances to get back his timing. He didn’t appear in the field on his eight-game assignment.

The addition of Morneau gives the White Sox offense another much-needed left-handed bat, one the team has sought since Adam LaRoche retired in March. The White Sox offense, which is averaging 4.18 runs per game, has been forced to go right-handed heavy against an AL Central loaded with right-handed starting pitchers.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Meanwhile, Fulmer would appear to be here to bolster the club’s bullpen, which is short-handed after three pitchers suffered significant injuries.

Fulmer has recently turned his season around after a start in which he averaged 6.65 walks per nine innings. In his last seven starts, Fulmer has a 3.51 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 41 innings. He also has reduced his walk rate to 3.73 per nine.

The Vanderbilt-product pitched in Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game in San Diego, striking out two in a scoreless inning. A National League scout who had seen Fulmer at the height of his struggles and again on Sunday said the right-hander “looked much better.” He also thinks Fulmer could handle the transition to the bullpen if needed.

Fulmer thinks so, too.

“I’m a max effort guy,” Fulmer said on Sunday. “I do everything I do every time I go out there and I don’t think that transition will be that big of a difference. It’s the same game. You’re still facing hitters and I just try to keep the same approach every time I go out there. I don’t think it’ll be a big transition at all if that’s what they decide to do.”

The White Sox already are without the services of Zach Putnam, Jake Petricka and Daniel Webb. Putnam is trying to rehab his elbow but has mulled surgery. Petricka had hip surgery and is likely done for the season while Webb had reconstructive elbow surgery and won’t return until at least next year.

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen is not one to shy away from having a strong opinion about something.

On NBC Sports Chicago’s Baseball Night in Chicago show on Tuesday, Guillen gave his view on how Major League Baseball can stop the usage of performance-enhancing drugs.

“Major League Baseball, you want to cut this thing down?” Guillen said on the show. “You cancel the contract to this kid. Then you’re going to see that. You get caught one time, you’re banned from baseball, then you’re going to stop with that. Because if you’re going to make $200 million and lose $11 million? I’m going to do it.”

Guillen is going off the idea that a player who used PEDs to get a big contract only loses part of it when he eventually gets caught and suspended. Canceling the rest of a contract takes away some of the financial incentive to use PEDs.

“If you get caught when you are young and you try to survive in the game, well, I don’t agree with them, but you can survive in this game that way,” Guillen said. “You know how hard it is right now. How Major League Baseball is on the top of this thing, day in and day out. They’re not going to play around with this thing.”

Marlon Byrd, who was twice suspended for PED use, was also on the show and talked about his PED suspensions.

Avisail Garcia's extended time on DL adding new wrinkle to discussion over his place in White Sox long-term future

Avisail Garcia's extended time on DL adding new wrinkle to discussion over his place in White Sox long-term future

After a career year in 2017 and his first All-Star appearance, maybe Avisail Garcia has done enough to keep himself in the White Sox long-term plans.

But there was plenty of mystery over whether Garcia, who finally broke out after four mostly middling seasons on the South Side, could do it again this season. That question doesn’t have an answer right now, even nearly two months into the 2018 campaign, as Garcia begins his fifth week on the disabled list. His hamstring strain is serious enough that the White Sox announced over the weekend that he likely won’t be back in action until late June.

“No one likes to be injured, especially position players (who are used to) playing every day,” Garcia said Tuesday. “I don’t like to watch the game. I mean, I like it, but I like it when I’m playing. So it is what it is. I’m just watching, learning more because we’re learning every single day.

“It felt like it was going to be two weeks, but it’s taking longer. No one likes that, you know? No people like injuries. It is what it is, and I won’t try to take it too hard, just work hard and put everything together to come back to the field.”

This season figured to be an important one for Garcia, who is under team control through the 2019 season, slated to hit the free-agent market ahead of the 2020 campaign, the year many are looking at as the one where the White Sox ongoing rebuilding process will yield to contention. Will Garcia be around for that contention?

His 2018 production was supposed to go a long way toward answering that question. Perhaps a strong season could’ve earned him a new contract and locked him into place as the team’s future right fielder. Perhaps a fast start could’ve made him a potential midseason trade candidate and fetched a prospect or two that would’ve helped advance the rebuild.

Instead, Garcia started slow, as he’ll readily admit. His numbers aren’t at all good through his first 18 games of the season. He owns a .233/.250/.315 slash line, nowhere close to the .330/.380/.506 line he posted last year, when he was statistically one of the American League’s best hitters.

“Slow start, slow start,” he said. “I was feeling better a couple games before I got the injury. I was seeing the ball better, but baseball is like that. Sometimes you start good, sometimes you start slow, so it is what it is. We’ve gotta make adjustments as a team and try to get better every single day.

“But you know, that happens, I’ve just got to come back now and make adjustments and help my team win.”

A starting spot in the White Sox outfield of the future is anything but assured for any player these days. In addition to Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert owning some of the highest prospect rankings in the game, guys like Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe have put up some impressive minor league numbers so far this season.

With all those youngsters doing what they’re doing, is there a place for Garcia? Or even if he were to produce well over the next two seasons, would the White Sox want to spend money to bring back a veteran when they have so many high-ceiling, low-cost players waiting in the wings?

It’s hard to answer those questions right now. Not only is it still early enough for Garcia’s fortune at the plate to change dramatically between now and the offseason, but his injury status throws a new wrinkle in the mix. Maybe it ends up making the White Sox decision easier than it would have been had Garcia’s performance been the lone factor here.

But for Garcia, 2018 remains about showing that he can replicate what he did a year ago. If he can’t — for whatever reason — maybe the keys to the outfield of the future get completely placed in the hands of those current minor leaguers. Until he returns from this injury, though, it's all a waiting game.