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McCann on Sox: 'This team is a contender'

Lopez, Despaigne, Nova to start for Texas series; Fulmer returns
@scottmerkin
June 20, 2019

CHICAGO -- White Sox catcher James McCann usually waits until August to check records and figure out if a team is a contender or pretender. But the veteran takes a look at the 2019 White Sox, sitting two games under .500 after Wednesday's 7-3 loss to the Cubs, and already

CHICAGO -- White Sox catcher James McCann usually waits until August to check records and figure out if a team is a contender or pretender.

But the veteran takes a look at the 2019 White Sox, sitting two games under .500 after Wednesday's 7-3 loss to the Cubs, and already has a pretty good feel.

“At this point of the season, I would say this team is a contender. Who knows what’s going to happen down the road?” said McCann, who went deep Wednesday for his third homer in four games. “But you have guys in Triple-A that are coming up. We are one or two pieces away from making a big-time statement in this division.

“You look around here and guys are still competing despite losing [Carlos] Rodon, despite not having [Michael] Kopech this year, despite injures to Nate Jones and guys like that who were supposed to be big-time contributors. It’s been that 'next man up' mentality.”

McCann has been one of the key reasons for the White Sox success, as his .330 batting average would lead the American League with the required number of plate appearances. McCann also has the perspective of facing the White Sox with the Tigers last season and seeing the turnaround as part of the team in 2019.

The same can be said for reliever Evan Marshall, who pitched briefly for the Indians and Mariners over the last two years.

“I knew what they were last year. I played against them last year, and this year it’s not that,” Marshall said. “This year, you’ve seen the evolution and growth of the young players and the guys taking a leap forward, and you see it in our record.”

“One of the things that I notice is the constant fight,” McCann said. “There were days playing against the Sox last year where -- I don't want to say they didn't have fight -- but we'd take a lead on them and say, 'OK, we feel comfortable.' Now, I look at the scoreboard and we might be down 7-1 and I feel comfortable that we're going to make a comeback.”

Taking the fifth

Reynaldo Lopez, Odrisamer Despaigne and Ivan Nova will start this weekend against the Rangers, with Lucas Giolito figuring to open a three-game road series in Boston on Monday. But with Manny Banuelos going to the 10-day injured list (retroactive to June 16) on Wednesday, a fifth starter will be needed on Tuesday.

Dylan Cease, the No. 18 prospect overall per MLB Pipeline, is scheduled to start for Triple-A Charlotte on Friday. His name inevitably comes up as a replacement, but manager Rick Renteria directed the topic of Cease’s promotion as one for the front office when he was asked Wednesday.

“Is he throwing well? Yeah. Would I want to bring him here so that you could be happy about him being here in the big leagues? Sure, I would,” said Renteria. “But we're going to make sure that we take our time and are very thoughtful in our decision making.

“I'm not going to sit here and try to give you any answer that's going to dispel the notion that we shouldn't have him here. No, he's doing very, very well and he'll be here soon enough. Hopefully he'll be able to do what everybody's expecting him to do.”

The White Sox might be more inclined to have Cease debut at home, meaning the four-game set against Detroit beginning July 2, including a doubleheader, would be more likely.

Fulmer returns

Carson Fulmer rejoined the White Sox bullpen with Banuelos’ trip to the injured list. Fulmer, 25, has a 1-1 mark with a 6.97 ERA in eight relief appearances over three stints with the White Sox this season. He is 1-0 with a 3.97 ERA, one save, 32 strikeouts and a .221 opponents average over 15 relief outings with Charlotte.

“Just continuing to stay ahead of hitters,” Fulmer said. “Throwing a lot more strikes, which is good and definitely helped me out. Just trying to find some consistency, which I did, and hopefully carry that up here.”

He said it

“No one guy's more important than the other, and guys truly want their locker-mate to succeed. It's been a lot of fun to be a part of.” -- McCann, on the ’19 White Sox

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.