With Albers on DL, Carroll takes White Sox long-man role
CHICAGO -- Matt Albers stood at his home locker with a wry smile on his face as the media members approached Sunday morning. With his hand heavily wrapped, the veteran White Sox reliever knew he was going to be a topic of conversation.
"My first interview of the season," said Albers with a laugh.
Well, that's not exactly true, but the right-hander became the lone non-suspension casualty of Thursday's bench-clearing, bullpen-emptying fracas in the seventh inning of a contest between the White Sox and Royals. He suffered a compression fracture on the pinky of his throwing hand, sending him to the 15-day disabled list.
Some sort of heroic story of Albers single-handedly pulling six or seven players out of the scrum would seem to fit the injury. But he honestly isn't sure exactly how it happened.
"All the bullpens kind of came in at the same time and you know everything was kind of happening so fast," Albers said. "Then right after it was all over, I felt that something wasn't right, but I didn't think it was that bad. Then, came in the next day and obviously was in pretty good pain and so got an X-ray and a broken finger.
"What they had said and the X-ray and stuff that it looked like it got jammed pretty bad. So I think that's how it happened. It wasn't like a punch thrown or anything like that. Either somehow, somebody backed into me, jammed it, or trying to grab somebody. I'm not exactly sure how it happened. It happened pretty fast out there."
Albers served as the White Sox glorified middle reliever or even long man, a role now being assumed in Albers' absence by Scott Carroll, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Charlotte on Sunday. In a strange twist, Carroll made his Major League debut after parts of eight Minor League seasons with a start for the White Sox on April 27, 2014 against the Rays, almost one year to the day of his return.
Carroll was designated for assignment Nov. 25 to make room for Adam LaRoche, after posting a 5-10 record with a 4.80 ERA over 26 games and 19 starts in '14. He came back to the White Sox as a non-roster invite to Spring Training because he liked the team assembled by general manager Rick Hahn, liked his potential for opportunity and was familiar with the staff and players.
"Coming into the city again, it didn't feel like I left," Carroll said. "Having a year under my belt, it has meant a lot. I got to really focus and work on my pitches and compete at this level.
"It's one thing when you can be successful at Triple-A. But to do it at the big league level, you have to be better with your stuff. I've just become smarter dealing with hitters."
The hope for Albers is to not be out much longer than the 15-day stint. This injury makes it tough for him to grip the baseball. To make room on the 40-man for Carroll, Eric Surkamp was designated for assignment.