White Sox relievers Josh Osich and Ryan Burr suit up next to each other in the clubhouse — but there situations couldn’t be more different.
Burr, 24, was a late-summer call-up last season and has 19 2/3 innings of experience on a big-league mound. MLB.com ranked him as the Sox’s 30th best prospect.
Osich, 30, was called up Friday about a month after the Sox claimed him off waivers from the Orioles. He spent four seasons with the Giants
Osich, who replaced Caleb Frare, another young arm like Burr, knows why the Sox are giving him a shot: To add veteran depth and help mentor his younger counterparts.
Osich said he tries to impart the same wisdom former teammates such as Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez offered him when he was younger.
“Always be prepared to throw every day and stay positive,” he said.
Those words turned out to be prescient when Lucas Giolito exited in the third inning Wednesday with a strained left hamstring and the Sox turned to Burr for some unexpected early relief.
Burr was tagged with two unearned runs in 1 2/3 innings.
Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune
White Sox reliever Ryan Burr pitches during the 2019 home opener against the Mariners at Guaranteed Rate Field.
White Sox reliever Ryan Burr pitches during the 2019 home opener against the Mariners at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)
“It was surprising, obviously,” he said. “You never want anybody to get hurt. Usually we’re not used to going into the game the second or third inning but my name was called and I went out there and just try and keep the team in the game.”
Burr’s locker mate Osich was the one to relieve him in the fifth. In his first appearance for the Sox, Osich struck out three but allowed the game-tying two unearned runs.
“It was good to get in there,” Osich said. “Hopefully I’ll get quite a few more opportunities.”
Wednesday’s scenario typifies the dilemma manager Rick Renteria has faced much of the season: Try to give his core of young relievers enough room to develop — but not necessarily in a winnable game, where a veteran might be more suited.
“We ended up breaking camp with rookies, five guys in the pen who broke camp for the first time,” Renteria said. “Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time in the beginning to be able to fit some of those younger guys in certain situations to give them a taste and then pull them out. We actually had to take them and use them for an inning-plus, two innings.
“So being able to allow them to get the experience in a positive way as much as we possibly could, it didn't quite develop that way in the beginning.”
Renteria also has to weigh burdening some of his strongest bullpen arms — such as Alex Colome and Kelvin Herrera — to rescue younger relievers
For Burr, Osich has been more than just a safety net on the mound.
“He has 160 some games under his belt. I’ve got 16,” Burr said. “For me it’s just trying to pick up on what it is that makes you a good professional baseball player on and off the field.”
“It’s how you handle expectations, how do you handle bouncing back after a bad outing, not as much as, ‘Hey, what would you throw in this situation?’
“He’s a lefty, obviously, and I’m a righty, so we probably attack hitters a little bit differently. It’s awesome having him next to me in the locker room. He’s somebody if I ever have a question, he’s super friendly, he always wants to help, always wants to push us to be the best we can be.”