LL Cool J famously said “don’t call it a comeback.” In the case of Felipe Paulino, that is exactly what it should be called. Paulino started for the Chicago White Sox today after missing the entire 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Not much is expected from Paulino this season. Multiple teams passed on him resulting in the Sox offering a one-year, $2 million deal this winter. Slotted as the No. 5 starter, but starting the second game of the year due to the desire form a lefty-righty alternation in the rotation, all the Sox are really looking for from the right hander is to eat up innings.
At 30 years old, the team does not expect to have Paulino in future plans that exceed past 2015. Surely he is not a part of the core that general manager Rick Hahn is assembling. All that is needed of Paulino is to be a durable pitcher who could possible bring back a return come trading season.
That in itself makes Paulino’s outings important. Starting pitchers will be in high demand come deadline time. Even a back of the rotation arm like Paulino can bring back a sizable return. Sure, him getting back to form may not directly help the Sox future, but indirectly adding to success would also be beneficial.
Under the tutelage of pitching coach Don “The Pitcher Whisper” Cooper, Paulino should be able to flash the potential that teams saw for a brief time in 2012. He had a decent outing this afternoon only allowing one earned run in 5 1/3 innings while only surrendering two walks.
With pitchers like Chris Beck and Andre Rienzo waiting in the wings, it is just a matter of time before Paulino is not donning a White Sox jersey while he pitches. Until then, White Sox fans hope that they can call Paulino’s 2014 season a comeback.