Chicago White Sox pitcher Garrett Crochet ‘ecstatic’ as he aims for a spot in starting rotation

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Garrett Crochet recalled several relief outings for the Chicago White Sox during the 2021 season in which he would go one inning but felt he had more outs in him.

The left-hander might get that chance for more this season as he attempts to shift into a starting role.

“I’m ecstatic,” Crochet said Tuesday at Camelback Ranch. “I had a conversation with (general manager Chris) Getz early in the offseason and felt like it went really well. It’s not like I expect to be given anything. I just want a chance to fight for a spot and earn it and, at the end of spring training, reevaluate.”

All 72 of his major-league outings have been as a reliever. His last start came in 2020 during his third college season with Tennessee. He’s up for the challenge.

“I feel like it’s the most value I can bring to the team,” Crochet said. “And I feel like that’s kind of the prized pony of major-league baseball. Everybody wants to be able to start, not everyone can do it. I have a lot of self-belief I can do it, so I wanted a chance to prove that.”

Getz said it was clear in their conversations how excited Crochet was to get a look as a starter.

“When you’ve got a player that has that type of conviction, I think you’re doing the player a disservice to ignore that,” Getz said during a video conference Monday. “I said, ‘Listen, I want you to have an offseason of preparation to be a starter.’ We’re going to go about this appropriately from a health standpoint because he was coming off Tommy John (surgery) last year, he had a shoulder hiccup. So I wanted to be very safe in how we went about it.

“His mind and his body are prepared to be a starting pitcher at this point. Obviously he needs to be built up further. He hasn’t had too many starter innings under his belt. That’s even going back to college. But he’s a special arm. He’s shown three pitches in the past. So he’s got the starter kit to be a starting pitcher. Now it’s just a matter of going out and executing and figure out how to navigate games.”

The Sox selected Crochet with the No. 11 pick in the 2020 draft and he joined the big-league team down the stretch of the pandemic-shortened season. He had a 2.82 ERA in 54 relief appearances in 2021 and prepared to expand his role in 2022 before tearing his left ulnar collateral ligament and undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Crochet made 13 relief outings in 2023, missing some time with left shoulder inflammation.

“When I was doing my early-on scout meetings across COVID, that’s what I was kind of preaching to teams — with the shortened season coming up, I could envision myself taking the (Chris) Sale path and coming up in the bullpen and eventually transitioning to starting,” Crochet said. “That was derailed by COVID and my (surgery). But the innings buildup is not as big of a factor in my mind with the five-day routine. It’s a little different than going back-to-back or two out of three or even three out of five. I’m not really rewriting the book here.

“(Justin) Verlander has done it for years and years but he’s a little bit older and had 18 months off and came back and had a full season ahead of him, and so have other guys from Tommy John. With me not having done it for so long, that’s where the risk comes into play. But in my mind, I know it’s been done before and it’s something I can do as well.”

Crochet said the key to preparing to becoming a starter is “more so just the mindset and the buy-in.”

“It’s what me and Chris talked about a lot, flipping between starting and relieving, which one it’s going to be,” he said. “I needed to buy into one. Getting into the multiple ups of things.

“I threw a multiple up live last week, but going to progress slowly through spring. Just trying to take every precaution necessary to have a full healthy year.”

The plan, Crochet said, is for a slower buildup than a typical starter.

“Just because I don’t really have the innings base under me and it’s been a while since I’ve done that,” he said. “In the past when I started, once you get to the two ups, three ups comes a little bit more naturally. It’s really just being able to sit down and get back up and go out there.

“I expect once it starts to progress for it to pick up a little bit more steam, for it to flow better than we are hoping for. With not having done it in so long, who knows what’s to come. It’s on me in that scenario to be honest about how I’m feeling and my recovery. Just put the team in the best case when spring breaks.”

As for the path, Crochet is open to anything.

“I’ve been training this offseason to be a starter and it’s what’s in my mind,” he said. “It’s up to the front office to decide what’s the best path to execute the plan, but I’m open to anything that’s helping the big-league club. Starting is definitely No. 1 for me.”