Poreda to stay put in bullpen
Rookie hurler popular choice to fill out Chicago rotation
MINNEAPOLIS -- The people's choice for Chicago's fifth starter among in-house candidates appears to have gravitated towards rookie Aaron Poreda going into the All-Star break.
Clayton Richard, the team's incumbent at the back end of the rotation, has gone eight straight trips to the mound without a quality start and has a 10.50 ERA over his past five starts. Proven veterans such as Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia still are working their way back into big league pitching form at Triple-A Charlotte.
And then there's Poreda, the hard-throwing left-hander who was the team's top pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. He has become an instant bullpen presence with a 0.90 ERA over eight games, but don't look for him to be stepping back into the role he held so well to the tune of a 2.38 ERA over 11 starts at Double-A Birmingham at the outset of the 2009 campaign.
"Poreda is a reliever right now, and it's unfair to him for me to start him," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. "He's long since been stretched out. He's getting over the hump and showing he's a quality left-handed reliever. We don't want to pull the plug on that."
"I've heard no word of starting," Poreda said. "Right now, I'm in the bullpen, and I have to prepare myself every day and be ready."
At 22 and experiencing his first taste of big league life, on-the-job training has become crucial in Poreda's development. For example, Poreda had grown accustomed to working out of the windup as a starter, but he noticed that two of his four walks issued over 10 innings had come from the windup.
So, Poreda made the change to work almost exclusively out of the stretch in relief.
"When you come up, you learn you have to simplify everything," Poreda said. "Figure out what your best stuff is and go with that, your bread and butter.
"Working out of the stretch has helped me throw strikes and command my pitches better. In this situation, you have one hitter or one inning on the mound, and it's like, 'Everything you got, let's throw right now.' I like that mentality."
Cooper and the White Sox like the strong will shown by Poreda on the mound, as well as the 11 strikeouts. He has been given a greater relief role, now serving as the second bullpen southpaw behind Matt Thornton.
For the moment, though, Poreda's role will not be changed to every fifth day. It's a job he could move into in the near future, much like the transition Mark Buehrle made after pitching in relief in 2000. Poreda understands the decision, but seems ready for any task asked of him by the team.
"My arm is feeling great, and I would like the opportunity," said Poreda. "I'm not sure how my arm would feel from being in the bullpen, but I'm sure I could adjust and accomplish it."
"Can he start? Yeah he can start in the future," Cooper said. "But right now, to get him stretched out again, I think that's counterproductive. We'll see. We haven't considered that. I don't see that happening."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.