Kuhl makes most emotional start of career on breast cancer night

May 24th, 2024

In his 11-year professional career, has pitched in 239 games, from the lower level of the Minors to the Majors. None of them held the same significance as his May 17 start for the Triple-A White Sox affiliate.

Kuhl took the mound for Charlotte against Durham in a pink-sleeved jersey in support of breast cancer awareness with wife Amanda, who was diagnosed last year, watching from the stands at Truist Field.

More from MLB Pipeline:
Top 100 prospects | Stats | Video | Podcast | Complete coverage

Charlotte lost, 10-5, but the 18th annual Pink Knights game was a clear victory from an emotional perspective.

“It’s really cool. Obviously, we were struggling through a tough year last year. We’ve come out on the other side," Kuhl said. "Thankfully, Amanda is doing great right now. ... A little less than a year later, I am on the mound during a night like that -- it is really cool for me and my family."

In late January 2023, the Kuhls were considering adding to their family, wanting to give then-2-year-old Hudson a sibling, when a routine exam revealed an abnormal mass. Chad, who spent the previous season with the Rockies, signed a Minor League deal with the Nationals in the wake of the Stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis. And Amanda began the emotionally and physically grueling process of egg freezing to give the couple the option of expanding their family post-chemo.

With Spring Training starting in Florida, Chad battled for a roster spot. He only left camp to be with Amanda, who at age 30 had to undergo a double mastectomy and lymph node removal. The right-hander made the team, but went with his wife for treatment whenever possible. Together, they launched the “Cancer Isn’t Kuhl” campaign with Washington National Philanthropies to support Breast Care for Washington, DC and The Previvor, which provide screening and genetic testing.

Amanda managed to keep a positive outlook through round after round of chemotherapy, but when Chad was designated for assignment midway through the season, he saw it as an opportunity and took the remainder of the year off to be with his family.

In December, Chad signed a Minor League contract with the White Sox, expecting to start the season at Triple-A. That turned out to be the case, and everything seemed to come full circle when he was able to start the annual Pink Knights game.

“We knew since my last start down in Gwinnett that it would line up like that," Kuhl said. "We were hoping that there was no rainouts or anything like that. We ended up having a rainout in a doubleheader, but it still fell on my day, which was nice.”

Over $27,000 was raised during the event for the Levine Cancer Institute’s Project Pink. The organization was established to increase access to life-saving mammography screenings for uninsured women. To put that figure into perspective, a $15,000 donation can cover a screening day for 40 women as well as such follow-up procedures as ultrasounds and biopsies when needed.

“Myself and my wife would definitely agree that awareness is such a huge part of any type of cancer but breast cancer in particular," Kuhl said. "The measures that you can take to be preventative are so huge. To raise awareness and get people talking about it is such a huge thing. I’m super thankful to the Knights to have a night like that."

Amanda finished chemotherapy in September and underwent radiation until early November. She takes medication to prevent a reoccurrence, while continuing to encourage young women to schedule mammograms annually. With Chad on the mound and Amanda in the stands, the day-to-day existence has taken on a familiar cadence.

“It has been six to seven months since she has been cleared, so she is doing great. We’re returning to life as normal pretty much,” he said.