Derek Holland’s goal is to pitch deep into games, log 200 innings and help his new team win.
The Sox signed the 30-year-old left-hander to pick up a chunk of the innings that otherwise would have been eaten up by Chris Sale. For what it’s worth, in the weeks since Holland appeared at SoxFest and now as spring training opens, it has become obvious to fans and media that the Sox also have a big, engaging presence.
“The main thing is, you gotta have fun and enjoy yourself,’’ Holland said.
When Holland made calls to Sox season-ticket holders from Guaranteed Rate Field last month, he dipped into his repertoire of impersonations including Harry Caray, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cleveland from the ‘‘Family Guy’’ and Kermit the Frog.
For a team that figures to be in a rebuilding phase, it can’t hurt to have a few laughs. Holland will be good for that.
“I just have a personality,’’ Holland said. “I want to live my life, have fun, enjoy myself and play the game of baseball at the same time.’’
On Sunday night, Holland and teammate Tommy Kahnle attended Royal Rumble, a WWE event in Phoenix. He bought replica championship belts for two kids sitting nearby, including a Make-A-Wish beneficiary. That’s just how he rolls.
During a group media session Wednesday, Holland joked about not remembering new teammates’ names, gave a cameraman a hard time for moving around and said he whispered “reunited and it feels so good” in catcher Geovany Soto’s ear (the two were teammates with the Rangers).
Manager Rick Renteria said Holland’s presence is good for the comfort levels of all those young Sox players.
“I think it’s awesome,’’ Renteria said. “As we get to know him a little bit more, we are going to take advantage of it, exploit it a little bit. He’s a happy-go-lucky guy. [And] very focused, very intent on his work. He knows what he wants to do. He’s been around. We’ll take advantage of it and use it to liven up the clubhouse a little bit.’’
First and foremost, Holland wants to improve his numbers after going 7-9 with a 4.95 ERA over 107„ innings last season for the Rangers. Knee and shoulder problems limited him to 37 innings in 2014 (1.46 ERA) and 58⅔ in 2015 (4.91 ERA).
“Man, I feel great,’’ said Holland, who pitched to a 3.42 ERA over 213 innings in 2013 and a 3.95 ERA (going 16-5) over 198 innings in 2011. “I mean, I don’t know how to really describe it without sounding crazy but I feel awesome. I want to use some crazy words to describe it but I have to remember I’m with the media.’’
Holland chose the Sox over the Pirates and signed a one-year, $6 million deal. Discussions with pitching coach Don Cooper helped him make the decision.
“Coop just kept nailing me,” Holland said, “saying ‘there’s some things I want to work on, I know what we can get right. I saw some things.’ We just kept talking about stuff and I know these are things I need to get back on track and to be successful. And that was it.
“Once he started hammering down on me I was like, ‘Alright, we’re going with the White Sox.’ Plus I’m a very sporty person and [Chicago] is a sports town, too. I came from a sports town [Dallas] and this is another great sports town. That also played a factor.’’
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