BOSTON — Two days at Wrigley Field, three at Fenway Park, all in a week. It’s like a baseball history tour for the White Sox. And for rookies like left-hander Tanner Banks, who along with fellow rookie relief pitcher Bennett Sousa, Jake Burger, Gavin Sheets and Ryan Burr went exploring inside the Green Monster Friday, the aura of the place wasn’t lost on them.
“There is something about an energy in a major league stadium you can’t get anywhere else,” Banks said Friday, “but then you come to these iconic, century-old ballparks and think of the greats who graced these halls and played on this field.”
Fenway has been home of the Red Sox since 1912.
“It’s cool. It’s history. It’s where baseball originated,” Sheets said.
Banks is a feel-good story enjoying the majors for the first time. At age 30, he was beginning to wonder if he’d get to play in a big league park, let alone Fenway. And he wasn’t leaving Boston without checking out the big green wall.
Inside, “you feel that energy of not just the present game but those who came before,” he said.
“There were so many names in there, thousands. And we got to write our names up there and you think, ‘Is this going to be around another 100 years? Is the ink going to fade? I guess it’s our jobs to make that ink have meaning.”
With Andrew Vaughn on the IL and manager Tony La Russa playing a more defensively polished AJ Pollock in the more spacious right field, Sheets, a first baseman by trade, played left by the Monster. It was all meaningful, he said.
“The newer clubhouses are nicer and have all the cool stuff but knowing the guys who walked through these doors and played here, that is the fun part,” Sheets said.
With a 1.29 ERA over 14 innings and eight appearances, Banks can feel like he came with some cred. But he knows getting to the big leagues is one thing and staying is another.
“It remains to be seen,” Banks said. “You have to do your job, get outs and give your team a chance to win.”
Dylan Cease will start Saturday on regular rest and Dallas Keuchel Sunday on six days. Johnny Cueto, signed to a minor league contract, has had enough work at Triple-A Charlotte and is a possibility to join the team next week, although La Russa wasn’t specific about a plan with six starters in the mix.
“He’s in the discussion now,” La Russa said. “He’s made enough starts, so we are talking about him. So, the best thing is he’s in the conversations. We’ll see what the result is.”
The Sox have 18 games in the next 17 days with a doubleheader in Kansas City May 17.
“We are just going to try to really analyze how guys are throwing and if they need extra time,” La Russa said.
Michael Kopech will start Monday when the Sox return home to play the Guardians.
Vaughn on mend
Vaughn, who landed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Monday, received a cortisone shot for the bruise in his right hand. Manager Tony La Russa was hopeful Vaughn would return when he’s eligible Thursday against the Yankees, although the issue of whether he’ll need at-bats at Triple-A Charlotte might come into play.
“We are going to miss him here,” La Russa said.
La Russa said X-rays and MRI were “clean.”
“There’s no damage in there,” he said.