New White Sox starter Erick Fedde wasn’t afraid of change

Right-hander signed to $15 million, two-year contract confident his second in tour in major leagues will be better than first

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Nationals pitcher Erick Fedde facing the Cubs, in 2021, in Washington. (AP)

Washington Nationals pitcher Erick Fedde delivers a pitch against the Cubs, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP)

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Erick Fedde went to the lab, went to the gym and went to Korea.

He came back about to get $15 million richer, brimming with confidence after pitching to a 2.00 ERA with a 20-6 record that put a Korean Baseball Organization MVP trophy in his suitcase and a return to the major leagues in his future.

The White Sox this week signed the 30-year-old right-hander, who posted a 5.71 ERA in 27 starts and 127 innings for the Nationals in 2022, expecting him to fill innings for a pitching-thin team on the rebound from a 101-loss season. In six seasons with the Nats, mostly as a starter, Fedde owned a 5.41 ERA.

After the 2022 season, Fedde, a 2014 first-round draft choice by the Nationals, reassessed his situation, his focus and his career.

“I knew some things had to change,” Fedde said on a teleconference with reporters Thursday. “I just wasn’t having the success I wanted. I picked up and moved to Arizona and got to a workout facility and a pitching lab [Push Performance]. They also had some physical therapists in the facility to get me feeling right and get myself a new repertoire and feeling strong. Adding a sweeper, which I guess everyone likes to talk about these days, and I got my changeup figured out and that led me to have a four pitch mix [sinker, cutter, sweeper, changeup] when I went to Korea and led to a lot of the success.”

Korean baseball is said to be comparable to Double-A or Triple-A minor league ball. Fedde notes there are a couple major league caliber hitters in most lineups, but overall less power. But Fedde’s confidence is at an all-time high because of how he feels and how he’s commanding his pitches.

“There’s just no more confidence I can possibly have than what I do now,” he said. ‘Now it’s about taking that and feeding it into my upcoming pitching in the majors again.

“I really believe [the success is] going to translate well. The biggest thing is my last year in DC, I was not feeling as amazing as I do now. I feel strong, I feel healthy. My velocity is back. There’s a sharpness to my pitches I just didn’t have.”

The sweeper has added velocity from what the pitch was before, a slider, and induced swings and misses he wasn’t getting with the Nats.

“The changeup was just another way to keep righties and lefties off my fastball which I really needed,” Fedde said.

Fedde said his experience at Push, where he strengthened his shoulder, was life changing. He said the Korean experience “was amazing.”

“They treated me really well,” he said. “The atmosphere is unmatched with the chants and the way the crowd is. It was a great place to go and I wanted a place where I could throw a ton of innings, work on my things and make adjustments. Korea really offered that for me.”

The Sox’ offer was “great,” Fedde said, and talks with general manager Chris Getz, manager Pedro Grifol and pitching coach Ethan Katz afforded levels of comfort and belonging.

It feels like a good spot for him to put his major league career on a better path.

“Talking about starting a new culture there,” Fedde said, “and also it’s a place I felt I could get into the rotation and help the squad be better, and be part of the rebuilding of that rotation, for sure.”

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