Dylan Axelrod used to pitch in Chicago, but the stage was a little bigger Wednesday.
Signed by the White Sox in 2009 while pitching for the Windy City Thunderbolts of the independent Frontier League, Axelrod made a quick climb from southwest suburban Crestwood to the South Side.
Judging from the way he fared against the Tigers in his first major-league start -- Axelrod allowed 2 runs on 6 hits in 6 innings while striking out eight -- the 26-year-old right-hander just might have a future with the Sox.
"It was fun," said Axelrod, a native of Santa Barbara, Calif. "Just good to get out there and make my first start, show what I can do. I just had a blast out there."
In a combined 26 games (24 starts) between Class AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte this season, Axelrod was 9-3 with a 2.69 ERA.
He made his major-league debut for the White Sox on Sept. 7 and pitched 2 scoreless innings against the Twins.
Axelrod was positioned for the win Wednesday before Chris Sale and Sergio Santos failed to hold a 5-2 lead in the ninth inning.
"It's nice to get individual accolades like wins and things, but it's a team game," Axelrod said. "Unfortunately we came out on the losing end, but I was happy with what I did and just want to continue to build off that."
The White Sox have little to play for, especially since they will be officially eliminated from the playoffs with 1 more loss -- or 1 more win by the Tigers.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said any player that doesn't want to play anymore simply needs to ask.
"I don't want to waste my time playing people if they don't want to play, and keep suffering and getting older and wrinkled and white hair when somebody else doesn't care," Guillen said. "I don't say everyone. I'm not pointing any fingers at anybody. If anybody out there doesn't want to perform, that's easy. Call Kenny (Williams), call Jerry (Reinsdorf), make sure you stay home and get it next year like I hear all the time in the paper. Have a better year next year."
Said A.J. Pierzynski: "We are playing hard. I don't see anybody quitting. Well ... I don't see anybody not doing what they need to do. Everyone is still running the bases and still playing as hard as they can and trying to win games. It just hasn't worked out."
The White Sox will open the 2012 season with a three-game series at Texas beginning on April 6.
After three more games at Cleveland, the Sox open at U.S. Cellular Field on April 13 against Detroit.
The White Sox play the Cubs at Wrigley Field, May 18-20, and host the North Siders, June 18-20.
In interleague play, the Sox host Houston, June 8-10, and Milwaukee, June 22-24. They play at St. Louis, June 12-14 and at Los Angeles, June 15-17.
Boston comes to the Cell, April 26-29 and the Yankees visit Aug. 20-22.
The White Sox end the regular season with three games at Cleveland (Oct. 1-3).