Tanner Tully torn as World Series begins

Tanner Tully 

It felt like Tanner Tully was trying to work out of a bases-loaded jam, and it had nothing to do with his own pitching.

Rather, this was a jam he inherited. And the only thing loaded was the question, the one regarding whether Tully would be rooting for his Chicago Cubs or for his Cleveland Indians in the World Series that was set to start Tuesday evening.

"That's tough. You got your childhood team growing up against the one that pays you," Tully summarized Monday night over the phone.

"Probably, you go with your boss," said Tully, the former Elkhart Central superstar who was drafted by Cleveland in June.

Yet, that wasn't the end of it.

The "probably" in Tully's response left the bullpen door open for the question to be reworded a few minutes later.

So, asked more specifically to imagine a Game 7 and the Series coming down to one decisive play, he was queried once more on which way that might cause him to lean.

"The Cubs, probably, because it's been longer for them, and I've been a Cub fan a lot longer," Tully said.

The man who wrapped up the Blue Blazers' 2013 state title by pitching a shutout and hitting a lead-off homer in a 1-0 victory certainly didn't mean to contradict himself.

If anything, he was being gracious by even being willing to answer.

"Really," Tully offered, trying to bottom-line his sentiments, "it's a win-win (situation). That's how I feel."

A Cub fan since he was a little kid watching games with his grandfather, Ron Mathis of Elkhart, Tully was taken by Cleveland in the 26th round of that June draft.

He knows for sure that one of his teams is going to end a well-chronicled drought.

And if that team adapts to the role of world champion as smoothly as Tully has so far adapted to pro ball, it'll be rapid-fire.

In his first season, Tully posted a 4-1 record with a shimmering 1.17 earned run average over 13 appearances and 46 innings for Mahoning Valley of the short-season New York-Penn League, earning an All-Star selection along the way.

"It went well," Tully acknowledged. "I just did what I do, not try to strike guys out, but be consistent every time out there, make my pitches."

Tully followed up his NYPL season with three weeks of September workouts at the Indians' complex in Arizona.

While there, he crossed paths with two pitchers, Ryan Merritt and Danny Salazar, now on Cleveland's World Series roster.

Merritt, a rookie lefty who spent the bulk of the season at Triple-A Columbus, pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in the Indians' ALCS-clinching Game 5 win over Toronto. Salazar, who was rehabbing from a strained flexor muscle in Arizona, hasn't pitched since Sept. 9, but is a co-candidate with Merritt to start Game 4 of the Series.

"It's going to be fun. It's exciting both teams are Midwest teams," Tully said of the first World Series featuring two such clubs since Kansas City vs. St. Louis in 1985. "It seems like a lot of people don't like Midwest baseball. It should be great."

The laid-back Tully says he doesn't have any grand plans for viewing the World Series.

"Probably just watch with my roommates at our apartment," said Tully, who shares a Columbus residence with fellow ex-Ohio State players and 2016 draftees Ronnie Dawson (second round, outfielder, Astros) and Nick Sergakis (23rd round, second baseman, Mets).

Tully, besides working part-time at a deli in Columbus, is spending his offseason training with several ex-Buckeyes who are likewise minor leaguers.

His next official obligation to the Indians doesn't come until late February or early March, when he reports to spring training.

Chances are, by then, a torn Tanner Tully might even have his mind made up on whom he was rooting for in the World Series.

Anthony Anderson is The Elkhart Truth's sports editor. Contact him at aanderson@elkharttruth.com. Follow on Twitter at @AnthonyAnders11.

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