White Sox’ Lance Lynn becoming fan favorite on South Side
“The older I get in this game, the more I respect and enjoy these moments because you don’t know when you’re going to get them again,” Lynn said.
DETROIT — It has taken right-hander Lance Lynn only two and a half months to become a fan favorite.
A 7-1 record with a 1.23 ERA in your first 11 starts with the White Sox will do that. Throw in the no-nonsense attack mentality on the mound sprinkled with eruptions of emotion after clutch outs as well as an expressed connection to the South Side, and, well, that’s the thing love affairs are made of.
“That’s who I’ve always been,” Lynn said in a conversation with the Chicago Sun-Times. “That guy who wears his emotion on his sleeve. I’m going to give it everything I have to help the team win. I’ve had that since I was a little kid.
“The other day [against the Blue Jays], it was, ‘Let’s effing go,’ trying to get the boys going because we’re in a one-run game, and it’s time to add on there. Part of it is to pump the guys up, and they seem to enjoy it. It just kind of comes out.”
It can be traced back to Lynn’s childhood, the trailer-park kid who was looked down on, he says, and whose big brother never let him win anything or get an easy layup on the basketball court. And it has stayed with Lynn at 34 as he pitches for a team with World Series ambitions.
Lynn pitched in one as a rookie with the Cardinals in 2011 and has built an accomplished career since but hasn’t pitched in another Fall Classic.
“When you come into a season with a team with this much talent and a chance to win, you make sure you get yourself ready to try to get to a whole new level,” Lynn said. “The older I get in this game, the more I respect and enjoy these moments because you don’t know when you’re going to get them again.’’
Lynn already is telling his wife he’s going to need a golf league or a baseball team he can pitch — and hit, he says — for when his career is over to feed his competitive monster.
People around the Sox say Lynn is one of the top clubhouse guys they’ve been around. Treating the 26th guy on the roster like the team’s stars will do that for you.
“It’s simple,” Lynn said. “I grew up in a trailer park in the cornfields of Avon, Indiana. So I’m not better than anyone. Everyone here is the same, enjoying what they do and what they need to do for their careers and their lives. No one is bigger than anyone, and that’s how I was brought up. I refuse to look down on anyone.”
At 12, when Lynn was gaining notoriety as a Little League World Series standout on his way to becoming a high school star and first-round draft choice out of college, he moved away from Avon.
“And from that point on, I wasn’t going to treat anyone bad no matter how much success I had,” he said. “It also drove me to prove people wrong. That’s where the chip on the shoulder comes from.”
“The thing I like is his professionalism and mound presence,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He gets it and throws it, and he stands up in tough situations.”
Lynn, who makes his 12th start against the Rays on Monday to open a series matching the top teams in the American League, might be standing on the mound as the AL All-Star Game starter at this rate. He appeared in the 2012 game with the Cardinals and passed on going in 2019 to stay home with his family. With his three kids older now, Lynn won’t turn it down this time.
“It would be cool to have that opportunity again,” he said. “If I get that opportunity, it would be a dream come true, but it’s not something I’m worried about.”