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White Sox’ Carson Fulmer keeps head up through rough start

PITTSBURGH — As it turned out, Carson Fulmer was not alone when he got shelled for five runs in the first inning of his last start. White Sox teammates James Shields (four runs), Lucas Giolito (two) and Reynaldo Lopez (four) also got dinged up in their first innings after Fulmer set the tone.

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“For a lot of pitchers, that first inning is the hardest one to get through,” Fulmer said Wednesday. “You’re trying to feel out what you have that day. When you’re too fresh, you can lose control a little. But we’re all going through that learning process of what exactly works. We started together, and we’ll end together. We’ll figure it out here soon.”

Fulmer (2-3, 6.23) had been scheduled to start against the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon but was pushed back two days in favor of veteran left-hander Hector Santiago, who stopped the trend with five innings of two-run ball. Santiago said he expects to stay in the rotation while Miguel Gonzalez (shoulder) remains on the mend.

Carson Fulmer delivers during the first inning against the Cubs on Friday, May 11, 2018. (AP)

Fulmer, meanwhile, knows he has to get untracked. Carlos Rodon (shoulder) may be back before too long, which would push a starter out.

What’s to be done?

“Command the zone, get ahead, eliminate free passes and create early contact to go as deep as possible,” Fulmer said.

Fulmer, who had a side session Tuesday and will have another “small one” Thursday before his start Friday, said he’s ironing out “a couple of mechanical issues.”

If Fulmer doesn’t get untracked soon, it will be interesting to see how much patience manager Rick Renteria and pitching coach Don Cooper will have allowing him to work things out in the rotation.

“I’ve always wanted to be a starter, I am a starter,” Fulmer said.

“When it comes down to it, starter or reliever, starting is what I want to do. But as long as we put up W’s … I have to take hold of my job, which is to get outs.”

A rest for Tim

Shortstop Tim Anderson had started every game, and with the team just starting a run of 16 straight games without an off day, Renteria left him out of the lineup for a day game after a night game. Yolmer Sanchez started at shortstop, opening a spot for designated hitter and team home-run leader Matt Davidson at third base.

“I’ve been wanting to give him a break,” Renteria said. “Today was the perfect day to do it.”

Anderson pinch-hit in the ninth and flied out.

Closing time

With 10 wins, the Sox’ bullpen hasn’t had enough save chances to give clarity to roles at the back end of the pen. Bruce Rondon collected the last save, his first, against the Cubs on Sunday. Nate Jones has one and Joakim Soria four.

“We’re still going to be using all these guys in different situations,” Renteria said. “We have Joakim, Jonesy and Bruce who have [closed], so we’ll continue to use them as we need to.”

Soria entered in the seventh inning of a tie game Wednesday and gave up the go-ahead run, appearing for the first time since he faced the Pirates last Tuesday in Chicago.

On deck

Rangers at Sox

Thursday: Cole Hamels (2-4, 3.48) vs. James Shields (1-4, 5.44), 7:10 p.m., NBCSCH, 720-AM

Friday: Doug Fister (1-4, 4.06) vs. Carson Fulmer (2-3, 6.23), 7:10, NBCSCH+, 720-AM

Saturday: Matt Moore (1-5, 7.82), vs. Lucas Giolito (2-4, 6.91), 6:10, NBCSCH, 720-AM

Sunday: Mike Minor (3-2, 5.61) vs. Reynaldo Lopez (0-3, 3.50), 1:10, Ch. 9, 720-AM