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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Bassitt struck out Detroit Tiger slugger Miguel Cabrera on a called third strike for his first major league strikeout.

Striking out the former Triple Crown batting champion was enough to bring national media attention to the 6-foot-5, 210 pound Bassitt, a 2007 Genoa High School graduate who played collegiately at the University of Akron.

The 25-year-old right hander was promoted from Double A straight to the Majors to pitch the second game of a doubleheader on a Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.

After striking out Cabrera, Bassitt went on to pitch two scoreless innings before the Tigers registered three straight hits to begin the third, leading to a pair of runs. The Tigers brought home three more runs in the fourth inning on a two-run single by Ian Kinsler and an RBI groundout by Cabrera.

Looking up and facing “Miggy” and the rest of the Tiger lineup was a “dream come true” for Bassitt, who admits to being nervous at game time.

98Bassitt2
Chicago White Sox pitcher, Chris Bassitt, Curtice native and 2007 Genoa graduate, debut, a start against the Detroit Tigers in Chicago. (Photo courtest of Ron Vesely©/Chicago White Sox)

“It still hasn’t registered at all,” Bassitt said. “It was pretty surreal. Everything happens so fast, it’s really not set in — it really isn’t. It’s just incredible to play baseball in beautiful stadiums and in front of 40,000 people — it’s surreal. There was definitely some extra adrenalin.”

In 6.1 innings, Bassitt gave up five earned runs, seven hits, struck out four and walked four.

“It could have gone better, but the Tigers basically have the best hitting team in the big leagues,” Bassitt, talking to The Press from Minneapolis on Wednesday, said. “You are going to take your lumps and you’ve got to get adjusted to this level.

“There are different things at each level — from Double A to Triple A, obviously. This is the biggest jump, you’re going to take your lumps, and you’ve got to learn from it and then obviously make the next outing even better.”


Bassitt fans in Chicago
In Chicago, there were about 70 friends and family members cheering Bassitt on, including his former Genoa High School coach, Danny Clayton, and Genoa Little League President Lee Nissen. Afterwards, Bassitt got to spend about an hour with many of them at a Chicago hotel before they went their separate ways.

“Chris was the first kid to come through our program to play in the Majors,” Nissen emailed The Press. “I would not have missed it for the world. I was very proud of his performance and all the work it took to get there. Chris is a great kid from a great family. I am sure there will be bigger and better things to come for him.”

A Press employee who ate at the Perrysburg Fricker’s Saturday night said there were even more Bassitt fans in the restaurant enthusiastically cheering him on. Bassitt, whose family hails from Curtice, says he appreciates the support.

“I am very lucky that the people I grew up with in the seventh and eighth grade are still my best friends to this day. They were at the game in Chicago, and I’d love to thank all my friends and family,” Bassitt said.

“I’m very lucky to have the people in my life that I grew up playing baseball with, and all the coaches that were there. I’m very lucky to call them my friends.”

ocal Bassitt fans are not his only friends. He now shares the White Sox dugout with infielder Jose Abreu and veteran Paul Konerko, among others. Bassitt says he feels welcome there, too.

“I’m just lucky enough to be in a great organization that we have a lot of very supportive guys,” Bassitt said. “Everyone has pretty much taken me and all the other call-ups with open arms, and I think they are all very, very nice people, and that’s just being lucky, obviously, because that is not always the case.

“I’ve been playing with these guys for three or four years. (White Sox pitcher) Jacob Petricka, he’s a very close friend of mine for a long time and he’s been in the big leagues all year this year. (Pitcher) Daniel Webb, he’s been in the Big Leagues. Now, I’m just lucky enough to playing with them in the Big Leagues.”


Pitching against Indians?
The White Sox’s original plan was to send Bassitt back to the minors, and then put him on the 40-man roster on Sept. 1, but instead he stayed on the 25-man roster and is still traveling with the Sox.

He expects that most of his work from here on out will be from the bullpen. He says the difference between the Majors and the Minors is the mental challenges that come with every at-bat.

“There is so much data now. Everyone knows how many times you swing at the first pitch, how many times you swing at a fastball on the first pitch,” Bassitt said. “It’s definitely a mind game of, ‘Hey, this is what this guys and now just go and pretty much attack.’ Eventually it becomes, hopefully, your strengths are better than his strengths, and you get him out. That’s really all it is.”

Bassitt has told The Press that the two-seam fastball is probably his best pitch. He also throws a four-seam fastball, curve, slider and change-up. His two-seam reaches 95 mile per hour and has plenty of movement.

The White Sox were in Cleveland Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and if Bassitt threw, which was expected, it was against his boyhood team. However, he would only admitted that in a round-about way, and adds that he never paid much attention to the Major League standings.

“Honestly, I was really not much of a baseball fan growing up,” Bassitt said. “I liked the Yankees, but at the same time, I always think I was thrown into the Cleveland atmosphere, and I had to like all Cleveland sports, so if I would have to root for somebody, I would say I’d have to root for the Indians. But I wasn’t very much of a follower of baseball when I was growing up. It was all football and basketball.”

Before entering professional baseball, Bassitt was an All-Mid-American Conference selection while pitching for Akron in 2011. He also played two years for the Ohio Monarchs Gold (now Toledo Hawks) summer collegiate baseball team that won a National Amateur Baseball Federation College World Series championship in 2008. The Monarchs defeated the Long Island Astros, 4-3, in the televised final at Ned Skeldon Stadium.

Bassitt was selected in the 16th round of the 2011 draft out of Akron and was instrumental in the Birmingham Barons’ run to the 2013 Southern League championship, going 2-0 with an 0.71 ERA (one earned run in 12.2 IP) in two postseason starts. He became the 44th player to jump directly from Double A Birmingham to Chicago in the 28 years of the current affiliation and the first to do so since Jose Quintana in 2012.

Bassitt had gone 3-1 with a 1.56 ERA (six earned runs in 34.2 innings) and 36 strikeouts with the Barons this season. He had suffered a broken right hand prior to the start of the season and did not debut with the Barons until July 29 after pitching in three rehab games with the Arizona League White Sox.

He threw 16 consecutive scoreless innings over three starts from August 3-15 and limited the opposition to a .206 (26 for 126) average while in Birmingham.

 

 

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