Sox Drawer: With Floyd, Cooper insists 'it's not about stuff'

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Sox Drawer: With Floyd, Cooper insists 'it's not about stuff'

Gavin Floyd has great stuff.

We hear it all the time and so does Don Cooper. He's seen it and it's Cooper's job to make sure that the White Sox get the most out of it. But after watching Floyd struggle again on Thursday night, when he gave up five runs with four walks in 4 23 innings, the White Sox pitching coach didn't want to talk about Gavin's "stuff."

Why?

"It's not about stuff. Everyone in the league has stuff," Cooper said by phone from Los Angeles where the White Sox play the Dodgers Friday night on Comcast SportsNet. "You've got to command it more. You've got to pitch, and he's not commanding at the level he needs to command to put himself in a better position to win the game. That's what it comes down to."

In his last six starts, Floyd is 1-4 with a 10.38 ERA. The White Sox keep waiting for the 6-foot-6 righty to snap out of his slump, but it hasn't happened yet.

During spring training Floyd told Comcast SportsNet, "I believe that I can win 20 ballgames." Now at 4-7, that's probably a long shot.

He definitely has the stuff to win 20, Cooper said during spring training.

There's that word again: stuff. It keeps sneaking into our Gavin Floyd vocabulary. But until he consistently harnesses that stuff, he will continue to run into problems like Thursday when the White Sox lost their first road interleague series since 2008.

"He's got enough fastball. He's got enough curve ball. He's got a major league slider, a major league changeup," Cooper said of Floyd. "When the guy is having difficulty or in a slump so to speak, he's not commanding that stuff. He's making mistakes with it. Last night, the mistake to David Freese, it was a fastball that was supposed to be in. It was in the middle and he hit a homer. Gavin is paying for every mistake he makes."

After collecting a season-high nine strikeouts in a loss to the Astros on June 8, Floyd seemed to be on the right path. But in St. Louis, he drove off-course. He was in trouble most of the night and was pulled in the fifth inning.

So what now? Is he still... close?

"Yeah, he's close," Cooper said. "We've seen Gavin go 8-10 good starts in a row. We've got to stick with him. We've got to keep working. We've got to keep being positive. It's easy to do all those things I mentioned when everything is rolling your way. The challenge is, can you do it when it's not? And that's the challenge that we've got."

When John Danks returns from the disabled list, rookie Jose Quintana seems like a sure bet to remain in the rotation. That would mean that Floyd or Philip Humber, who's also struggling, will head to the bullpen.

Is it safe to say that Floyd and Humber are officially on watch?

"Everybody is on watch. Everybody's watching. We want guys to be out there and give us a chance to win the game. Gavin is in a slump and Philip is not clickiing the way we'd want him to click. It's not like, 'Jeez we got to dump this guy.' That's not our first thought. Our thoughts are, 'What can we do?' That's our job."

Mark Buehrle 'floored' White Sox will retire his number

Mark Buehrle 'floored' White Sox will retire his number

GLENDALE, Ariz. — He's a little nervous now that he has a speech to make, but Mark Buehrle is enjoying life and has no regrets about retiring from baseball.

Addressing the media for the first time since his final game on Oct. 4, 2015, Buehrle said Friday he's right where he wants to be — at home with his family. Buehrle determined 3-4 years ago he would retire after his contract expired to spend more time with his wife and kids. The pitcher, who will have his number 56 retired by the White Sox on June 24, said he didn't announce his decision to step away because he hoped to do so with much fanfare.

"I knew I was done, that I didn't have the drive any more," Buehrle said on a conference call. "I think a big part of it was missing the family, they weren't up in Toronto the whole season and I think that just kind of drained on me. The reason I didn't say anything — I didn't want all the attention. I've always told people I was a young guy that came into the big leagues unknown. Kind of snuck into the big leagues and I wanted to kind of sneak my way out. That's why I haven't said anything, I haven't talked to anybody, I just kind of let it go. Hopefully one day it was just kind of got forgotten and five years down the road, ‘Where's that Buehrle guy? Is he still around?'"

Buehrle, who won 161 games and completed 200 innings in 11 straight seasons with the White Sox, has spent the past year-plus on his Missouri farm with his wife, Jamie, and two children, "doing what I've been wanting to do for 20 years," he said. 

While he misses teammates and life in the clubhouse, Buehrle is at peace with his decision to retire after 16 seasons. He discovered when watching games last season that he didn't miss playing as much as he expected.

Buehrle joked that he doesn't want many former teammates to attend the ceremony because it means he'd have to speak in front of a larger audience. He promises to keep his speech brief, similar to the way he pitched. The left-hander even joked that he offered to allow his son to make the speech in his stead.

[RELATED: Ranking the five best games Mark Buehrle pitched with the White Sox]

Even though he's one of the most popular players in club history, Buehrle was surprised last month when the White Sox informed him of their plans. He'll be the 12th player to have his number retired by the White Sox.

"I was blown away and floored by it," Buehrle said. "It's obviously a great honor. It's something you don't really intend to happen or you don't play for that reason. You just go out there and play. I had a long, successful career there in Chicago. I just tried to do everything right and that's how I was kind of raised and how I went about it. Jerry (Reinsdorf) is kind enough to come with this offer about retiring my jersey. I really don't know.

"I've been joking around with friends saying my jersey is going to be up there next to Frank Thomas. I grew up watching this guy. It doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem like it belongs up there next to his.

"I'm going to be up there with all those numbers and it doesn't seem right, like that's where I belong. I just did what I was supposed to do, had fun with it and lived every day like it was my last. Now my number is going to be up there. I haven't really soaked everything in. It just doesn't make sense right now."

Carson Fulmer to start for White Sox in exhibition opener

Carson Fulmer to start for White Sox in exhibition opener

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox have lined up their first three starting pitchers of the spring starting with Carson Fulmer on Saturday afternoon.

The team's 2015 first-round draft pick received the nod as the White Sox open their exhibition schedule against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. CST. 

Jose Quintana pitches Sunday at home against the Colorado Rockies while Lucas Giolito is set to start at the Cubs on Monday. Fulmer — who went 0-2 with an 8.49 ERA in 11 2/3 innings in 2016 — likened the start to pitching against the Dodgers in a night game last spring in front of a sellout crowd at Camelback Ranch.

"I'm definitely honored," Fulmer said. "It's great. I feel like the coaching staff here stresses that in order to be a good player, you have to put yourself in situations that you are uncomfortable with. I'm not saying I'm uncomfortable with it but it was definitely a unique situation where I can go out there and help us win. So, spring training and the season, our goal is to win and I feel like with the coaching staff putting us young guys in that situation, I think it's going to benefit us."

[RELATED: White Sox not overly concerned about Todd Frazier's injury]

Fulmer is also excited to face his counterpart Saturday, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. 

"That's awesome," Fulmer said. "I've been watching him pitch since I was a little kid. I'm definitely pumped to see him out there. It's going to be awesome. 

"He's one of the best pitchers in baseball. I mean, he's a pitcher that you look up to and for me, it's going to be awesome. I hopefully can keep the scorecard or something."

The White Sox also announced Friday they have signed 25 players to one-year contracts, including Fulmer. Carlos Rodon's one-year deal for $600,000 is the highest of the bunch.