ARLINGTON, Texas — Felipe Paulino’s brief time with the White Sox has progressively gotten worse with each start.
It’s enough to where the team already has to make a decision about his future.
On Friday night the right-handed starting pitcher crossed off multiple items on the checklist of bad as the White Sox lost, 12-0, to the Texas Rangers in front of 40,671 at Globe Life Park.
Paulino allowed 10 earned runs and 13 hits over 3 2/3 innings as the White Sox lost their third straight game and fell below the .500 mark.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the team’s options don’t appear to include a bullpen stint. But their plans could land Paulino, who had shoulder surgery in September only 15 months after he had reconstructive elbow surgery, on the disabled list.
“Probably the way our bullpen is, that’s not an option,” Ventura said. “I don’t know if that would work for him or not being able to go back out there and figure it out there. We’ll see. We’ll talk to him tonight. ... He had mentioned being sore and things like that. I haven’t talked to him tonight. Maybe that’s it. I don’t know.”
When the White Sox initially signed Paulino to a $1.75-million deal with an option for 2015 they talked about having flexibility to let him bounce back from a pair of surgeries.
General manager Rick Hahn liked that the contract for the right-hander, whose fastball touched 97 on Friday, per brooksbaseball.net, included a $4 million option for next season in case he needed more time.
But Paulino’s performance so far is sure to test the team’s patience. Through four starts, he has an 11.29 ERA as he has allowed 35 hits and walked 12 batters in 18 1/3 innings.
Friday’s game included hitting batters with 0-2 pitches, balls traveling to the backstop and plenty of hard contact.
“I’m really, really in a bad stretch right now,” Paulino said. “I really battled every inning, tried to make my pitches and execute. But once again, it’s baseball. I go up there and compete and do the best I can. Unfortunately for me the thing is not on my side.”
Location seems to be his biggest issue.
Five days after he left an 0-2 slider in the zone to Nick Swisher, who hit a game-tying homer, Paulino was punished by the Rangers in a seven-run, third-inning rally, the most runs scored by any team in a single frame so far in 2014.
Paulino first Prince Fielder with a fastball on a 0-2 pitch. Then he left changeups, sliders and curveballs up, and Texas pounded him. Leonys Martin ripped a first-pitch changeup into the right field corner for a 4-0 lead. Then Robinson Chirinos followed with a two-run homer to left on a hanging curveball. Alex Rios singled off a fastball to drive in two runs, but Fielder doubled on a curve to give Texas a 9-0 lead. Martin homered on a curveball in the fourth to make it 10-0.
Of the seven pitches that led to Rangers runs thrown by Paulino, six were curves, changeups or sliders.
“He’s getting (Martin) stuff swinging at stuff down in the zone and leaves something up,” Ventura said. “Has him chasing early and leaves it up where he has a pretty good chance to hit it. I think really location is probably the biggest thing of not really being able to throw a strike when you know you’re going to throw a strike and put it where you want to. This is a league that punishes you if you don’t do that.”
The league might not get another opportunity in the short term as Ventura hinted. Paulino has said all along he feels good, that stuff isn’t the problem. He realizes not having pitched in the majors since 2012 could be working against him. He just wants to keep plugging away.
Were the White Sox to place him on the DL, the team’s best options at Triple-A Charlotte are Scott Carroll and Charlie Leesman, who is on the 40-man roster. Carroll is 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 19 innings, while Leesman is 0-2 with a 1.59 ERA in 17 innings for the Knights.
“It’s going to be tough,” Paulino said. “I understand my situation right now. After coming in last year and not pitching and a lot of people telling me it’s going to be tough and it’s really happening to me right now. Whatever happens, I’m healthy and I want to compete. I know the thing at some point is going to be on my side.”