Reliever Rob Scahill living the dream pitching for White Sox
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BALTIMORE — Right-hander Rob Scahill worked a perfect eighth inning for the White Sox in their 6-3 loss Tuesday to the Royals, an outing that went largely unnoticed in a rather meaningless game between two of the losingest teams in baseball.
But it was kind of a big deal for the 31-year-old Scahill, whose years in the game haven’t diminished his love and appreciation for it — or for the team he grew up rooting for. Scahill remembers where he came from — suburban Villa Park, Willowbrook High School and Bradley University in Peoria — and wearing the uniform of the team he was a fan of wasn’t lost on him.
‘‘Everybody dreams of playing in the major leagues, and then to play for the team you grew up rooting for means a lot,’’ Scahill said. ‘‘It’s very cool.’’
Scahill, who has a 3.77 ERA in 119 career relief appearances in seven seasons with the Rockies, Pirates, Brewers and Sox, signed on as a non-roster invitee last winter. He pitched well in spring training but spent most of the season at Class AAA Charlotte. When right-hander Michael Kopech went down with a torn ulnar collateral ligament last week, Scahill was called up to give the Sox an extra bullpen arm for the final three weeks of the season.
Scahill had posted a 5.64 ERA at Charlotte, a figure inflated by three appearances in a short span that went off the rails. Rainouts had stacked games together, and Scahill had to take one for the team.
‘‘The worst week I’ve had as a baseball player,’’ he said. ‘‘I gave up 17 earned runs in three innings [with one walk and six strikeouts]. And it was all singles, too. It wasn’t like I was getting banged around the yard. Not a lot of hard contact.’’
Scahill, who had a Frank Thomas poster on his wall and attended about one or two Sox games a year growing up, was a freshman at Bradley when the Sox swept the Astros in the 2005 World Series. He and a bunch of his pals and teammates stormed up and down the halls of his dormitory and celebrated with the rest of Sox Nation after Paul Konerko pocketed the final out on Oct. 26, 2005.
A 48th-round draft pick by the Yankees out of high school and a ninth-rounder by the Rockies out of Bradley in 2009, Scahill never severed his bond with the Sox. Becoming a pro ballplayer can do that, but not in his case.
‘‘You’re still a fan,’’ Scahill said. ‘‘It’s hard to replace 25 or 26 years supporting a team. It’s like being a working professional who grows up a Steelers fan. If you move to Washington, D.C., you’re not going to root for the Redskins just because you work there. You root for the team you play for, but outside of that you’re a fan of baseball.’’
NOTES: Omar Vizquel was named Carolina League manager of the year after leading the Sox’ Class A Winston-Salem affiliate to an 84-54 regular-season record. Vizquel, 51, completed his first season as a manager after being hired by the Sox last winter.
• Winston-Salem designated hitter Micker Adolfo, outfielder Blake Rutherford and catcher Yermin Mercedes were named to the Carolina League’s year-end all-star team. The Dash are the only team with three hitters on the list.