CHICAGO – Two back surgeries are enough to tell yourself that your chances of playing in the major leagues again could be done.
Dallas McPherson never gave into negative thinking and his perseverance was rewarded when the White Sox purchased his contract from Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday. Mark Teahen went to the disabled list with an oblique strain.
The last time McPherson played in the major leagues was in 2008 with the Florida Marlins. Since then he has missed an entire season (2009) because of back issues and went through hamstring problems last year in the Oakland A’s organization. His first back surgery forced him to miss the 2007 season.
“I knew I wanted to keep playing baseball and I felt like I still could,” McPherson said. “My back was obviously gonna tell me whether I could or not. Luckily right now it’s holding up. That’s all I can really ask for and pray it continues that way.”
As a second-round draft pick with the Angels in 2001, McPherson quickly developed into a hot-shot prospect with plenty of power potential. In 2004 he combined to hit 40 home runs with 126 RBI between Double-A and Triple-A before getting called up to the major leagues for the first time.
But injuries and a propensity to strike out (121 strikeouts in 360 at-bats with the Angels) is what ended his time in Southern California. Mostly it was the back issues, though.
He hooked up with the Marlins in 2008 and made an impressive recovery, blasting 42 home runs with 98 RBI to earn a brief 11-game stint in the major leagues. But again the back caught up with him.
He fared well with the White Sox this spring but couldn’t help but think his last chance might have come and gone.
“I got to be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d hear those words again but it was great to get called into the manager’s office like that and find out,” McPherson said of finding out about his promotion during a rain delay with Charlotte on Monday.
The toughest part about pushing yourself every day is not knowing if it will make a difference. But McPherson found the drive, batting .305 with three home runs and 18 RBI in 31 games.
“I don’t think you ever really know,” he said. “I kind of hoped I left a good enough impression and was seen in good enough light that if something did happen my name would at least be brought up. And I think that’s all you can do is kind of hope for that and the rest is kind of out of your control.”
What remains out of his control is how much playing time he will get with the White Sox. Batting from the left side he could split time with Brent Morel, but Omar Vizquel is also a left-handed hitting option at third base.
“I don't know yet,” manager Ozzie Guillen said about McPherson’s potential playing time. “It depends. I know he was swinging the bat OK in Triple-A but right now I'm going to stick with the guys we have here and see how we're going to play.”
McPheson won’t sweat it. He had a long road back to the major leagues, he had three third basemen ahead of him in Morel, Teahen and Vizquel and he still made it back. He will be ready when his number is called.
“After the springs I’ve had in the past and the past few years with all the injuries, I really was happy to be healthy and go out and play every day and hopefully showcase that I’m healthy and feeling good and can somehow help produce at the major league level,” McPherson said.