All-out effort results in on-time arrival to White Sox camp for pitcher Cory Luebke

All-out effort results in on-time arrival to White Sox camp for pitcher Cory Luebke

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Cory Luebke kept his word and reported to White Sox camp on time after the birth of his first child earlier this week. All it took was a 24-hour drive from Nashville, Tenn., to Phoenix to make it happen.

Luebke told White Sox manager Rick Renteria he would make every effort to report for the team's first workout on Tuesday. But he wasn't sure how he'd pull it off as his wife remained in the hospital until late Sunday night after giving birth to their son.

After weighing their options, Luebke and his father decided driving was the best choice. So they put the pitcher's two dogs in the family truck at 3 a.m. on Monday and the two alternated between driving and sleeping for 24 consecutive hours, only stopping for gas and restroom breaks. Several days later, Luebke, a non-roster invitee to camp who threw his second bullpen session on Thursday, said he has finally caught up on sleep.

"So me and my dad started packing later Sunday night, trying to look at some flights and said, 'Hey, screw it, let's get in the truck and we can be there tomorrow,'" Luebke said. "It wasn't too bad. Dad took the first five or six (hours), and I took the next part. Drove, napped, drove, napped, got here, made it to my physical."

The length Luebke went to arrive on time shouldn't come as a surprise given what he's endured since May 2012.

Luebke, 31, was two months into a contract extension with the San Diego Padres that could have paid him nearly $28 million and pitching extremely well when he needed reconstructive elbow surgery.

In September 2013, Luebke's rehab assignment was shut down after several bullpen sessions, and in February 2014 he required a second Tommy John surgery after doctors found another tear and that his first surgery didn't take. The Ohio State product was primed to pitch again in 2015 — he made seven appearances in the Padres' farm system — before a staph infection ended his season.

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Luebke persisted despite his troubles and made the Pittsburgh Pirates' Opening Day roster in 2016, pitching in nine games before he was sent to Triple-A. Though he struggled in the majors, Luebke found a rhythm at Indianapolis, posting a 2.45 ERA in 18 1/3 innings with 29 strikeouts.

"Just looking back, I probably wasn't quite ready yet," Luebke said. "Stuff was good, (the Pirates) liked the upside they saw. Had my old stuff back, just wasn't locating well. After that first month I went down to Triple-A for a few months and it all started to come back."

Luebke has continued to feel well this offseason and signed a minor league deal with the White Sox in January. FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman said Luebke would earn $1 million if he makes the big league roster. Given how good he feels, it's no wonder Luebke wanted to get to camp as quickly as possible. The White Sox could potentially keep a second left-handed reliever this season, and Luebke is in the mix.

But Luebke's son, Jackson, didn't arrive until eight days after his due date. In labor for 30 hours starting last Wednesday, Luebke's wife had a C-section. While the couple's child was healthy, the procedure resulted in complication's for Luebke's wife.

"The first few hours I didn't know how to feel because you look over one way and you've got a baby boy and he's doing great and you look over the other way and see your wife struggling," Luebke said. "It was tough. But it all worked out, and they're doing good now."

Roughly three hours after they arrived home Sunday night, the player, his dad and the dogs headed for Phoenix after packing. Luebke's mother stayed in Nashville to help out his wife and the baby, who are expected to join him later this spring. In the meantime, Luebke has spent much of the first few days in camp on FaceTime or looking at baby pictures. He also has managed to catch up on rest after five sleepless nights, which he said left him in a dream-like state.

Despite being a little out of it, Renteria said Luebke has looked good in camp so far.

"He's starting to hit his spots," Renteria said. "He looks like he's progressing to where he's ultimately going to be where he was previously, hopefully."

The team's new manager also said he was surprised to see Luebke report on time. Luebke, who was with the Padres at the same time as Renteria, had been in constant contact with his former coach and kept him apprised of the situation.

"He said he was going to make every effort and he did," Renteria said.

Tyler Saladino, Jose Abreu homer as White Sox tie Padres in Arizona finale

Tyler Saladino, Jose Abreu homer as White Sox tie Padres in Arizona finale

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tyler Saladino hit leadoff on Wednesday, finishing with a home run and a single.

Saladino's first-inning drive was one of eight combined homers hit between the White Sox and San Diego Padres, who finished in a 9-all tie at Camelback Ranch. Before the game, White Sox manager Rick Renteria said that Saladino, who finished 2-for-2, would see most of his playing time at second base.

"He's been developing and continuing to grow every single season," Renteria said. "The flexibility that he brings allows him to be in the lineup over an extended period of time. But we want to make sure we take care of him as we want to do with everybody else, kind of keep them all fresh as much as we can.

"He's developed into a pretty good major league baseball player."

Jose Abreu, Nick Delmonico and Jake Peter all homered for the White Sox. Delmonico led the White Sox with five homers this spring. Abreu went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs.

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Rule 5 pitcher Dylan Covey, who appears primed to make the Opening Day roster, allowed two earned runs in his lone inning pitched. Covey then headed to the bullpen and threw additional pitches there as the White Sox continue to build up his arm strength.

Veteran Anthony Swarzak allowed a run and struck out two in two innings. Reliever Dan Jennings allowed five runs (four earned) and four hits in 1/3 innings.

First-rounder Zack Collins drew a pair of walks in his only plate appearances and scored a run.

The White Sox ended the spring with a 16-15-2 record.

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Zack Burdi headed for the minors, the White Sox 12-man pitching staff is all but set.

The Opening Day roster won't be finalized until Sunday and the White Sox hypothetically could find an attractive candidate to claim off the waiver wire over the weekend. But barring that, it looks as if veteran Anthony Swarzak and second-year reliever Michael Ynoa have made the team after Burdi said Wednesday morning that he'd start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. 

The No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com, Burdi finished the spring with a 6.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Burdi finished his Cactus League on a high note with three strikeouts over an inning on Tuesday, including one of Kansas City four-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. 

"Man, it's been crazy," Burdi said. "Coming in and being the young guy in the locker room and then just progressing and showing a little bit more (comfort) around the guys and the veterans and then just being able to pick their brains and go out every day and try to progress. You get to the innings and you are facing guys you've watched your last 10 years of your life. It has been crazy and definitely something I won't forget."

Burdi lasted the longest this spring out of the cache of highly-touted prospects the White Sox brought to big league camp. Prior to escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam Tuesday, Burdi looked like he would allow a run in a third straight game after a hot start to camp (he only allowed a run in one of his first 10 appearances). But Burdi battled back and struck out Perez on three pitches, one of two straight strikeouts to strand both runners.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has been impressed by Burdi throughout the spring. But he also wants to see the Louisville product continue to work on command in the minors.

"You can't not see his stuff," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited when you see 99, 100, 101. But whether you throw it 101 or 83 like [Mark] Buehrle you have to throw it to the glove with command, change speeds and all that stuff. But he's a big part of our future going forward. He's one of the names."

Burdi said he plans to operate like he has already spring and not pay attention to any of the hype. Though he'd like to play in the majors, Burdi is excited to play alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer in Charlotte.

"Once you get a feel for all this stuff and you feel how cool it is to be in the locker room with all these guys and play with them, of course you want to get back up here," Burdi said. "But at the same time, a lot of my really good friends are on Charlotte and I couldn't be more excited to go down there and play with them and make the most of the season down there."