DETROIT -- Pitching against the team he rooted for, as a boy is no longer a big deal for Zach Putnam. Pitching at home in front of his friends and family, well, that’s not as easy.
But the White Sox reliever, who hails from Ann Arbor, Mich., fared well in the task in his only “home” appearance on Tuesday with a career-high four strikeouts over two innings. He allowed a run and a hit and walked one but overall has helped the bullpen to turn things around since he was promoted from Triple-A Charlotte last Thursday.
“I’ve been in pro ball long enough now where it’s lost the magic of the team you rooted for growing up,” Putnam said. “I wouldn’t even say I’ve gotten a handle on (pitching at home). Every time out is a challenge and you just kind of embrace it, but if nothing else you get excited about it and go out and give it your best.”
Putnam’s best pitch is his split-fingered fastball, one he calls his bread and butter.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura likes how the Putnam is a tough at-bat for both right-handers and lefties because of the splitter. He also knows Putnam is ready for whatever the White Sox ask of him.
“Nothing really bothers him as far as bringing him in in any situation,” Ventura said. “He’s kind of calmed the waters a bit since we’ve had him.”
Putnam said he has already been stretched out to 38 or 40 pitches this season. Because of the makeup of the bullpen, Putnam figures to be a long man. He expects to have more appearances like his first two when he went two-plus innings in each. He’d love to be effective enough to stick around for the White Sox next trip to Comerica Park in late July. Then he’d get to sleep in his own bed again and pitch in front of family.
“Pitching in Michigan weather, you kind of get used to it,” Putnam said. “I’ve done it my whole life, high school, college and then I started my pro career with Cleveland. So it’s kind of the same. It’s cold and the rain and weather that changes on a dime, its similar conditions. … Knowing I have family here and friends definitely pumps you up that little extra.”