This was going to be the year right-handers Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka put injury problems behind them and got their careers back on track. Both reclaimed their roles in the White Sox’ bullpen after getting through surgeries last season, Petricka for a torn labrum in his right hip in June and Putnam for bone fragments in his pitching elbow.
Petricka looked strong during spring training, and Putnam, after a rocky spring, opened the season with 8‰ excellent innings over seven appearances, allowing a run, two hits and one walk while striking out nine. His ERA sits at 1.04.
But an injury bug that is making its way through the Sox’ pitching staff reared its ugly head, Petricka tearing his right lat in his first appearance April 4 against the Tigers and going on the disabled list and Putnam going on the 10-day DL Tuesday (retroactive to Sunday) with elbow inflammation.
“It sucks,” Petricka said. “The timing of it. It was one of those one-pitch things. You can do all the training, but they told me it was like a hamstring injury. You run down the baseline 400 times, and the 401st you might end up with a hamstring issue.’’
Petricka is receiving treatment, doing exercises and waiting for a go-ahead to begin throwing again.
Putnam exited his last outing against the Indians on Saturday, escorted by trainer Herm Schneider, in the seventh inning. He took a couple of days to see if he could work through it, but it wasn’t to be. The Sox couldn’t go any longer without an arm in the bullpen, and right-hander Chris Beck, 26, was recalled from Class AAA Charlotte to take Putnam’s spot on the 25-man roster.
“We needed to make a determination [Tuesday],’’ manager Rick Renteria said.
The Sox have used the disabled list the fewest number of days in the majors since 2012, but 2017 hasn’t been so good, to pitchers in particular. Putnam joins Petricka, James Shields (lat), Carlos Rodon (biceps) and Juan Minaya (abdominal strain), who was having a promising spring, on the DL. Minaya began a rehab stint with Charlotte on Tuesday.
The Sox have more than held their own despite the injuries. They led the majors with a 2.91 ERA through Monday, and the bullpen — thanks in part to boosts from right-handers Anthony Swarzak and Tommy Kahnle — is second only to the Yankees’ with a 1.76 ERA.
Beck was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in eight innings and five relief outings at Charlotte. In 26 games (one start) with the Sox from 2015 to ’16, he was 2-3 with a 6.32 ERA.
That Charlotte scene
Beck, on the buzz in Charlotte, where the spike in quality prospects has heightened the interest and energy levels:
“You see that MiLB says it’s the No. 1 team to watch. It’s unbelievable talent: [Yoan] Moncada, [Reynaldo] Lopez, [Lucas] Giolito, [Zack] Burdi. That’s just to name the top ones. There are plenty of great guys there, [Carson] Fulmer, [Tyler] Danish. From top to bottom. It’s almost refreshing.
‘‘All eyes are on them, so you are just able to relax and play.’’
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