Braves reliever Aaron Bummer returns to a place he once called home

Atlanta Braves' Travis d'Arnaud, left, and Aaron Bummer meet after the Braves won an opening-day baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, March 29, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves' Travis d'Arnaud, left, and Aaron Bummer meet after the Braves won an opening-day baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, March 29, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

CHICAGO – On Monday morning, with the temperature in the mid-40s – and the wind making it feel colder – Aaron Bummer walked around Guaranteed Rate Field in shorts. Bummer, who used to call this place home, FaceTimed his young daughter, Brynlee, while strolling around the field.

His daughter knew the Braves would be playing here this week. And when Bummer played for the White Sox, she loved running around the field.

“And it was pretty cool to just be (tell her on FaceTime), ‘Oh yeah, you’ve been here, you’ve done these things,’” Bummer said in the visiting clubhouse – which was foreign to him – on Monday morning.

Bummer is back in a place that welcomed him since he debuted in 2017. Here, he experienced it all. He succeeded. He failed. He matured. He learned.

An offseason trade sent him to Atlanta. And while he’s grateful to be pitching for a contender, he can still appreciate returning to what became his second home.

“I mean, it’s pretty cool,” Bummer said about the emotions he felt in coming back. “Me and my wife (Amber) were talking about it a day or two ago. This is the place that we raised our family, essentially. My daughter used to ride her scooter down Michigan Avenue – things like that, that you don’t really get to experience in too many places. It’s cool to be back here. It’s perfect to be back here in the weather. What else do you want out of Chicago other than some rain and some wind, and potentially some snow? But I’m excited to be back here. I’m excited to see a couple of the guys over there. It’s an entirely new team. A bunch of new faces over there. I’m excited to be back and to be able to kind of continue this journey.”

As Bummer mentioned, rain welcomed him to Chicago – and there could be snow this week! But many of his former teammates are no longer with the club as White Sox general manager Chris Getz turned over the roster in the offseason.

That included a late-night phone call to Bummer – who was laying in bed with his wife – to deliver some news: The White Sox were trading him to Atlanta. Soon after Getz called, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos dialed Bummer’s number. The Braves, Anthopoulos said this winter, talked to Chicago about Bummer around last summer’s trade deadline. They wanted him.

“The emotions of being able to go from a team and be able to walk into a clubhouse that’s expecting to contend and expecting to win a World Series, you know, man, that’s a player’s dream. A player’s dream is to go out there and be able to compete at the highest level in front of the best fans in the world. … It was just an emotional day.”

Of getting to know Bummer, Braves manager Brian Snitker said: “It’s great. It’s been good. I think he’s really enjoyed his time here so far. I love his arm, his stuff. He’s gonna add a lot to our bullpen over the course of the summer.”

On opening day, Bummer allowed one run over an inning. He then surrendered two runs over one frame on Sunday. Give it time. It’s probably not best to judge someone on such a small sample. But Bummer took full accountability for the second outing, which helped the Phillies take the lead and win the game.

And here’s something interesting that tells you how accountable he is: Last season, he had a 6.79 ERA but his expected statistics made it seem like he might’ve been the victim of some bad luck. Asked about this, Bummer said the following:

“I’m not a believer in luck. You know, man, at the end of the day, you either get the guy out or you don’t. I can sit there hanging my hat on expected (statistics) or hanging my hat on those types of things. At the end of the day, that doesn’t get the job done. It’s a matter of whether or not you get the guy out, whether or not you get hold the lead, or whether or not you allow the runner to get on base. It’s being able to go out there and while things are kind of hitting the fan, can you buckle down and get the job done?”

With the White Sox, Bummer posted a 3.84 ERA over 274 innings. He pitched in the postseason in 2020 and 2021, but the White Sox never went anywhere. The Braves hope his time in Atlanta, in that way, is different.

Bummer is excited about his new venture.

But in his heart, there’s a place for the White Sox, who helped shape him to this point.

“They let me be a kid, they let me go out there and fail, they let me fall flat on my face and become the pitcher that I was capable of,” Bummer said. “They gave me the opportunities to go out there and be the best version of myself that I could be. The amount of things that I learned about myself as a pitcher, the way that I was able to grow just as an individual. The amount of good people that are over there. The people that I’ve met. The teammates that I’ve had. The clubhouse stuff. The training staff. All these guys are guys that I still stay in contact with. When you spend seven years somewhere, they’re gonna have a pretty big impact on your life. I’m forever grateful for the opportunities and the chances that they gave me throughout the organization.”