Poreda takes Colon's spot on roster
White Sox top pick from 2007 promoted from Double-A
CHICAGO -- Aaron Poreda walked out to the White Sox dugout about three hours before Tuesday's game against the Tigers, and with a wide-eyed look, the big left-hander surveyed the throng of media waiting to talk with him.
"Ah, it's amazing man," said Poreda with a smile. "Look at everyone here. I'm star-struck. I can't believe it. I'm living the dream."
That Major League dream became a reality for Poreda, 22, when his contract was purchased from Double-A Birmingham on Tuesday. The White Sox top pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft temporarily replaces Bartolo Colon on the active roster but not in the starting rotation, with Jose Contreras moving back into that spot.
Colon was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 8, with inflammation in his left knee. Colon has lost five of his last six decisions and received criticism from manager Ozzie Guillen on Sunday for not using an effective secondary pitch behind his fastball with a velocity in the high 80s.
With Colon's absence and Poreda's move to relief, the Interleague rotation for this weekend in Milwaukee will be Clayton Richard on Friday, Contreras on Saturday and Mark Buehrle on Sunday. Pitching coach Don Cooper certainly has not given up on the burly veteran right-hander, comparing this bout of inactivity for Colon to what the White Sox did for Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez in 2005, getting him healthy and fresh during the regular season to be ready for the postseason.
Of course, El Duque was part of a dominant team that had the look of a champion basically from the first week moving forward. If the White Sox slip out of the American League Central race, they could choose to go young and put Poreda in the rotation.
In order for Colon to be successful when he returns, though, Cooper readily admits that he has to further alter his style of pitching.
"This is a guy trying to go from a pure power guy to being able to pitch in a whole different way," said Cooper of Colon. "There are times where he's got it done, and there are times where he hasn't.
"He definitely is throwing more changeups and curveballs. But I don't think his curveball will ever be a top-notch pitch."
Poreda's promotion marks the second time in the last six days that the White Sox have turned to a top recent Draft pick to infuse a little life into their struggling team. Third baseman Gordon Beckham, selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, was called up from Triple-A Charlotte and got his first hit in 14 at-bats with a second-inning single off of Dontrelle Willis on Tuesday.
Working out of the rotation for Birmingham, Poreda posted a 5-4 record with a 2.38 ERA in 11 starts. The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder fanned 69 over 64 1/3 innings and led the Southern League in strikeouts. He also limited opposing hitters to a .206 average and held left-handers to a .170 mark, while allowing just one home run.
Poreda's last start was on June 5 against Montgomery, hurling six scoreless innings and giving up three hits. Poreda worked out of the bullpen during Arizona Fall League action and also pitched there in Spring Training, so he was more than ready to tackle the change of roles.
"I'm happy to fulfill my role first in the bullpen," Poreda said. "We're just trying to win games, so I'm doing whatever the White Sox want me to do. And having fun."
That fun started when Poreda found out about his promotion on Monday night and immediately posted the great news on his Facebook status.
"I was just so excited I wanted to shout it out to the world," said Poreda with a laugh. "I guess it snowballed a little bit."
Cooper said Poreda simply was the best option to add to the White Sox staff, while Guillen stressed that this move was not a sign of rebuilding but simply another decision made to help the team compete. Poreda's goal at the outset of the 2009 campaign was to develop secondary pitches behind his fastball in the high 90s, and he admitted to working hard on his slider and changeup.
"Going right after hitters, a lot of inside fastballs," said Poreda of his pitching style. "I like to pound the strike zone."
And pounding the strike zone will be key to Poreda's Major League survival. Guillen said that he won't have any problems with Poreda giving up a run or two if he makes the opposition put the ball in play.
If he starts walking opposing hitters, then Poreda will hear from Guillen. He also might have an unwanted present in the form of a plane ticket back to the Minors.
"You're going to be treated the same way as everyone else," said Guillen of his message to Poreda. "If you don't do the job, we have Southwest Airlines waiting for you to go to Charlotte.
"That's the only one with non-stop. I already checked," added Guillen with a laugh. "In Spring Training, I liked the way he threw. But I make it really clear to him, this isn't development."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.