After eight seasons in the minors, Scott Carroll is getting his chance Sunday afternoon. The White Sox hope he makes the most of it.
Carroll, a 29-year-old right-hander from Kansas City, Mo., will make his major league debut opposite former AL Cy Young winner David Price on a chilly, windy day in Chicago. His combination of a fastball, sinker, curveball, slider and changeup propelled him to success in four starts with Triple-A Charlotte this month, and despite not getting much of a look at him in spring training, the White Sox called upon him to face a perennial playoff contender in the Tampa Bay Rays.
The key for Carroll, pitching coach Don Cooper said, is to control the adrenaline that comes with pitching in the majors for the first time and avoid overthrowing.
"If a guy’s overthrowing and trying to do more, what you’re really doing is showing me that you’re not trusting your stuff if the first place," Cooper said. "Your stuff should never be more. More velocity, harder, the stuff should be more to the glove, and that’s certainly something we’re going to try to see if he can control himself."
A return from Tommy John surgery limited Carroll to just 11 starts and 42 innings in the White Sox farm system last year. The timing of Carroll's injury was bad — a lot of career minor leaguers in their late 20s resurface after missing a full year. But Carroll posted a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings with Charlotte this year, and his success combined with a banged-up White Sox rotation gave him his first opportunity in The Show.
"When a guy has worked his way through and has earned it with the way he’s pitched already and you get an opportunity, it’s special," manager Robin Ventura said. "He’s excited and you’re excited for him."
Ventura hopes to get at least five innings out of Carroll, provided he's throwing strikes. That's what Paul Konerko said his message would be to him: Get the ball over the plate.
"I would probably tell him hey, it's cold out there, it's windy, throw strikes," Konerko said. "If it goes bad, let it be by them hitting it, not walks. This weather can be challenging to hit in, just attack the zone and let the guys work behind you."
But that's easier said than done for a guy making his first career start, especially after spending so much time in the minors before finally breaking through. Cooper compared the adrenaline Carroll will have to pitching in the World Series and hopes he's able to channel it into a successful debut.
"You want that energy, but controlling is it important because if you can control that energy and bring that energy to the glove, it can take you to heights that maybe you’ve never seen before," Cooper said. "And unfortunately if you don’t control it, it can take you to depths you don’t want to go."