Right-hander Scott Carroll spent parts of eight seasons and made 138 appearances in the minor leagues before getting his first shot in the majors Sunday. His debut with the Chicago White Sox, at 29 years old and two years removed from Tommy John elbow surgery, made a first impression that was much better late than never at all.
Carroll limited the Tampa Bay Rays to two runs — one earned — over 7 1/3 innings subbing for injured ace Chris Sale in Chicago's 9-2 victory at U.S. Cellular Field. Carroll allowed six hits and two walks, and generated 13 ground-ball outs and three double plays with his sinker — as noted by reporter J.J. Stankiewicz of CSN Chicago.
After pitching in front of about 30 friends and family, including his parents, Carroll got a stadium-wide standing ovation when manager Robin Ventura removed him in the eighth inning. Carroll happily and enthusiastically waved back to the crowd while walking off the field as his mom, Linda Carroll, cried tears of joy from the stands. CSN interviewed his parents during the game, and Steve Carroll said the toughest thing about his son's road to the majors was getting through Tommy John.
"He just worked his butt off and did everything he was told to do and that's why he's here," Steve Carroll said.
The son sounds like a guy who always has believed in himself, via the Associated Press:
''I couldn't have asked for a better showing,'' Carroll said. ''I know I was capable of it, but it's just awesome to finally get the opportunity and showcase my skills here at this level.''
Carroll got big-time support from slugger Jose Abreu, who has 10 home runs and 31 RBIs in April — both major league records for rookies. The Rays, too, helped out by making four errors, all coming in the sixth inning when the White Sox broke through against Tampa Bay's David Price for five runs.
Nothing about the situation — it being his first game, or pitching in place of Sale, or going up against a Cy Young winner — sidetracked Carroll, a third-round pick of the Reds in 2007 who has compiled a 3.95 ERA in 639 2/3 minor league innings. He was 3-1 with a 1.57 ERA at Class AAA Charlotte this season before getting the call from Chicago, which needed to replenish its pitching depth.
''As soon as I found out I was going against Price, I thought to myself, 'What an opportunity,' " Carroll said. ''There's no better chance to showcase my skills and get to go against one of the best guys, a Cy Young winner. I just happened to be better than him today. It's a fun experience, and I'm just so happy to do it.''
Carroll was on the Purdue football team for a year but, after transferring, did most of his college work at Missouri State, where he majored in communications. Those skills are evident in this YouTube video Carroll made in 2012 that pokes fun at the quality of local TV commercials, but also at how poor most minor league players have it:
Big-league per diem is nice, but it really would be something if Carroll continued having success in the majors and got a chance to do some cheesy-ish commercial endorsements for real.
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