GLENDALE, Ariz. — Outfielder Brandon Guyer says he doesn’t try to get hit by pitches. It just happens a lot to the new White Sox addition.
“There must be a magnet inside me or something,” said Guyer, who was hit by a pitch 24 times with the Rays in 2015 and 31 times with the Rays and Indians in 2016. “Last year it was down , but lefties try to pitch me in, and I kind of close off when I hit and my instinct is to not move. It’s not something I want to have happen, but I’m wired that way.”
The Sox signed Guyer, 33, to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training for an opportunity to offer manager Rick Renteria a right-handed option for an outfield potentially with lefty swingers Jon Jay, Nicky Delmonico and Daniel Palka. And Guyer is more polished defensively than Delmonico and Palka, and can play center field, so there’s that. He owns a .274/.376/.449 career hitting line vs. lefties.
A thorn in the Cubs’ side in the 2016 World Series, Guyer hit .220/.312/.351 with nine homers over 413 plate appearances the last two seasons after hitting .266/.356/.403 with the Rays an Indians from 2014-16.
“In ’17 I had wrist surgery, and the first half last year I fought through good days and bad days,” he said. “But in second half, man, I felt like a new guy and had my normal numbers. Once the wrist finally healed I felt like the old player I was.”
After hitting .167 during the first half, Guyer batted .256/.333/.453 in the last three months. He felt like he deserved a major league offer this offseason, but settled for a minor league deal. He’ll make $1.6 million if he makes the club.
“I had a lot of minor league offers,” he said. “It was between the Sox and a couple other teams. It’s a good situation here and a good opportunity.”
And if opportunities arise to reach base the hard way, Guyer will be on board. He doesn’t wear padding — he has tried elbow pads and shin guards but finds them uncomfortable, he said — but if he gets hit, it’s all good.
“I want to hit the ball and get on base,” he said.
“But anyway I get on base, it helps our team.”
Fulmer in best shape of his life
Carson Fulmer, the 2015 No. 8 overall pick who is trying to get his career on track after failing to hold down a major league roster spot last season, lost 15 pounds in the offseason and turned to Driveline Baseball, a data-driven player development company near his hometown Seattle, in hopes of getting back on track.
“I wasn’t trying to lose weight but I got on a nutritional plan, was working really hard and started shredded pounds,” Fulmer said. “I got a lot stronger. Just an overall makeover, I guess.
Fulmer pitched to an 8.07 ERA over nine games (eight starts) after winning the fifth-starter job out of spring training and spent the rest of the season at AAA Charlotte, where he’ll likely start this season.
“I feel a lot better in every aspect, especially on the mound. I can’t wait for the results.”
Fulmer said he’s more flexible and is getting more extension. He has also been working with a mental strength coach.
“I’m in a much better place than I’ve ever been. I felt like I did in college. I’m excited.”
Manager Rick Renteria said relief work might be in Fulmer’s future.
Manny’s alright, he just seemed a little weird
New Cub Brad Brach, a teammate of Manny Machado’s for five seasons in Baltimore, echoed what another ex-teammate, Welington Castillo said of the star free agent being pursued by the Sox.
“I know obviously some quotes were said there during the playoffs,” Brach said. “But I enjoyed him as a teammate. He’s going to make anybody who has him better. And he’s a once in a generation talent. And it’s exciting to be able to see that on a daily basis. And I think seeing him every day you really appreciate it. If you see him in a short series or seven days or something like that you might not appreciate what he brings for 162.”