Leesman makes the most of his debut
August, 9, 2013
By Doug Padilla | ESPNChicago.com
David Banks/Getty ImagesCharlie Leesman gave up one earned run over five innings, striking out eight and walking five in his debut Friday.CHICAGO -- Like using a paperclip to repair a pair of eyeglasses, or duct tape on almost anything, Charlie Leesman proved to be a fine temporary replacement part for the Chicago White Sox on Friday.
In need of a starting pitcher, Leesman was added as the 26th man for Friday's doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins and showed that the often-criticized White Sox minor league system still has the goods to keep on giving.
The left-hander wasn't exactly sharp in his major league debut, walking five in five-plus innings, but he gave up just one run on four hits and did have eight strikeouts. The White Sox ultimately lost the nightcap 3-2 and were swept in the doubleheader, but Leesman was a bright spot.
"I think you look at, first thing is you're always looking at how many runs they scored,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He did have a high pitch count. I think that was one of the, for being in the fifth and sixth, he was pretty high. But other than that you like what you saw. He was battling and they didn't score much. So that's the good news."
After the game, Leesman was immediately sent back to Charlotte, but he figures to be back in September once the Knights complete their season.
If Leesman's anterior cruciate ligament injury in last year's Triple-A playoffs last September was the low point, then Friday was the high point a little less than a year later. He had trouble just fighting the excitement.
"All day today, I couldn't wait to get to the park so I could take some stress off of me," Leesman said. "From the first pitch to the last pitch, it was the most intense exhilarating feeling I've ever felt. It was awesome."
Controlling his emotions proved to be just as hard as holding the Twins in check.
"Yeah, I was making sure I breathed, in through the nose out through the mouth and even that didn't help," he said. "You are on cloud nine. It was so tough to kind of calm yourself. I wasn't able to calm myself but I got through it."
Leesman figures to be back once rosters expand in September, but at least he has that whole first-outing experience out of the way. The first batter he faced, the Twins' Brian Dozier, doubled down the left-field line. Josh Willingham walked with two outs. But Leesman got out of the inning unscathed.
"You hear a lot of guys say just get through the first inning and you can roll through there," Leesman said. "Once those guys got on, it was like all right. Once I got out of it, it was OK. I go out of the first inning. Now I can, not relax, but know I got through the first one."
For all its knocks, the cupboard isn't bare in the White Sox's system when it comes to pitching as Andre Rienzo is set make his third start Saturday, while Erik Johnson is also close to making his major league debut.
"It's nice to be in that group," Leesman said. "I wouldn't call myself a strong arm, low 90s, but we have a lot of hard throwers, a lot of good arms, and it's great to be a part of it."