Fresh from the CarShield Collegiate League and now hitting the ground running at the White Sox's alternate training site in Schaumburg, Jake Burger met with the media on Monday and seems stronger than ever.
Burger, a 2016 first-rounder who has had to navigate through myriad injuries in his young career including two Achilles tears and a multitude of foot maladies, has approached 2020 with an incredibly positive attitude.
"It’s incredible [being in Schaumburg]," Burger exclaims right off. "I was talking with my dad the other day, saying this is exactly what I needed, getting some reps I've missed in the past two years. It’s been a long journey. In spring training, me and Getzy [Chris Getz] talked, and I told him I’m tired of being sorry for myself. I went home and played tennis, biked every day. Went to the CarShield league, that was fun, and right after that season ended, me and Getz texted and he got me up here."
While admitting his timing is still on the mend after being mostly away from live pitching for two years, Burger reported good results out of the college-level CarShield League, and admitted that White Sox director of minor league pitching instruction Kirk Champion saw him in a couple of games in the league and remarked, "Man, you're way quicker than most people realize."
Burger loves being in Schaumburg, and couldn't hide that enthusiasm.
"We’re going non-stop for six hours," Burger says. "I’m getting the reps I need. Also getting to be around the guys, working with Wes Helms defensively, getting to know Andrew Vaughn, Seby Zavala, pick their brains."
Foremost, Burger is appreciative of the support the White Sox have given him throughout his battles with injury.
"If I didn’t get that support [from Ricky Renteria, Rick Hahn, Chris Getz and others], it would have been tough to get through the past few years," he says. "Getz, I can talk about everything with him. I'm feeling that love, wanting to get better, along with getting better mentally."
And seeing how the 2020 team has jelled of late ("it's really exciting" Burger says of watching friends like Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert making their debuts), Burger is willing to do anything needed to contribute one day. Including moving off of third base?
"Hell yeah," he smiles. "I honestly feel better defensively now than I did before the draft. I can play almost anywhere they put me ... however I can get on the field, I’m going to do that. I can take on any challenge thrown at me, after the last two years."