Logan in search of control
Walks coming back to haunt White Sox lefty reliever
SEATTLE -- After the seventh inning came to a close during the White Sox 13-3 victory Tuesday night, Boone Logan slowly walked off the mound carrying a couple of numbers that were far from ideal in manager Ozzie Guillen's very basic world of pitching.
Logan had thrown 32 pitches to the last seven batters he faced, including a two-batter appearance against Minnesota on April 22, and only 13 of them had crossed the strike zone. Logan walked three and hit one during that stretch, but somehow escaped unscathed in terms of runs scoring.
Both runners Logan inherited from starter Javier Vazquez crossed the plate Tuesday night, a point of concern for the rookie being counted on as a situational left-hander. But of far greater concern is Logan's ability to consistently locate the strike zone.
"If you get behind hitters, you won't survive in this game," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of Logan's struggles to throw the ball over the plate. "That's true for everyone. If you walk people out of the bullpen, you are looking for trouble."
"I was just off a little bit," Logan added. "The last time I pitched, I didn't have a chance to find [the strike zone]. This time I had a little bit of time to get back into it, so I had to figure it out."
Logan's reference to his last time out was when he replaced Freddy Garcia with the White Sox leading by a 6-2 margin over the Twins, two outs and nobody on base in the seventh. Logan issued back-to-back walks and promptly was replaced by Brandon McCarthy.
On Tuesday in Seattle, with an 11-run lead to work with, Guillen let Logan battle his way out of trouble. The plan worked to perfection, as the left-hander finished off the victory for his first career save, allowing one run on three hits over three innings.
The three innings started with a pointed visit to the mound from Guillen after Logan hit Carl Everett with a 3-2 pitch and walked Adrian Beltre to force in a run. Guillen basically told Logan to throw strikes and let the defense do the rest.
"When he got there, I was already telling myself I had to turn it around now," Logan said. "Thankfully, I did."
"We just want him to go at the hitters and throw it down the middle, when we have a lead like that," added third baseman Joe Crede of Logan's approach. "Make them get themselves out."
Great starting pitching from the White Sox might be one of the worst enemies for Logan's control. His three innings worked Tuesday were just two-thirds of an inning less than his previous five appearances combined.
If Logan continues to waiver control-wise, or has trouble adjusting to the scattered opportunities to pitch, the White Sox do have alternatives in the Minors. Javier Lopez, the sidearm left-hander, has been virtually un-hittable for Triple-A Charlotte.
Lopez's two scoreless innings on Tuesday not only produced his fourth save but also increased his scoreless inning total to 11, allowing seven hits and striking out nine during that time. Logan edged out Lopez for the final roster spot coming out of Spring Training, with the White Sox choosing to give an opportunity to one of their homegrown prospects, who made the jump from Great Falls of the advanced Rookie League to the Majors.
But Guillen has made it clear the White Sox will not serve as a glorified Instructional League, even for a rookie who is not picking up big chunks of innings on a daily basis. Pitching for the White Sox is all about contributing to success, and ultimately, a second World Series title.
"This team is not to build. This team is not to watch the kids growing up," Guillen said. "Everyone on this club better be prepared to win, not just to get better."
Guillen's comments were not meant to show a lack of support for Logan. If anything, Guillen reiterated that Logan will have every chance to carve out his niche with the White Sox.
For the moment, though, strike one and strike two are the most important accomplishments for Logan to achieve.
"I need to go up there with an attitude, not saying it's not caring, but that's the attitude I have when I have pitched well," said Logan, who kept Tuesday's game lineup card in honor of his first save. "I do care, obviously, but I don't think about anything and just throw it. That's what I haven't been doing the last outing and at the start of [Tuesday's] game."
"Don't get me wrong with this statement, but to a large degree, we don't even care what the results are," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper added. "We want him to throw the ball over the plate and make them hit the ball. Patience is a key word right now, not unlike the same patience we showed with Neal Cots and we benefited from that one. We hope it turns out the same way."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.