07/18/12 12:30 AM ET
Cooper confident in bullpen's young arms
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
If the White Sox are to reach the same lofty heights in 2012, they would do so with quite possibly five rookies in the bullpen and at least one in the starting rotation. Pitching coach Don Cooper believes that ultimate feat can be accomplished even with this first-year scenario.
"Certainly we believe we can do it," Cooper said. "It's a big enough challenge for anybody to go out there and pitch and go through a pennant race and win it, I don't care who you are.
"When you are putting rookies out there, that's fine. But when you are asking them to do even more and elevating their roles, that's when it's more unchartered waters. So, it is what it is. We are not thinking about what we don't have or what we might want. We are thinking about the guys we have and how do you win ballgames? That's what we've been doing all year."
Cooper pointed out that what the White Sox have been doing all year has the team holding a 3 1/2-game lead in the American League Central after Tuesday's results. Of course, growing pains such as what Leyson Septimo endured during the eighth inning of Monday's loss are to be expected, but adding a strong veteran presence such as Jesse Crain from the disabled list to the back of the bullpen could serve as a positive realignment for the White Sox relief cause.
"Right now, if we go to anyone other than Matt [Thornton], it's a rookie in the bullpen," Cooper said. "We've been doing a really good job, to tell you the truth, if you look at it. The number of rookies now is as high as it has been, but we've been dealing with a lot of young kids the whole time.
"There will be moments where they trip and fall. Well, if they fall, we'll pick them back up and help them along. We are going to keep going. To this point, it has got us two games up in first place. Now we will find out can we continue to do it?"
Young lefty Hernandez to fill in for Floyd
BOSTON -- For those keeping score at home, Pedro Hernandez will become the 10th White Sox starting pitcher this season when he takes the mound Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
The 23-year-old southpaw, who was acquired from the Padres in the New Years Eve Carlos Quentin deal, joins Jose Quintana, Dylan Axelrod, Eric Stults and Zach Stewart as injury replacements for the original starting five. Hernandez takes the spot of Gavin Floyd, who was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career Tuesday because of right elbow tendinitis.
Hernandez produced a 7-2 record with a 2.90 ERA over stops with Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, and has made starts in 13 of his 14 overall appearances. He will be the 10th rookie pitcher to spend time on the 2012 White Sox roster.
"We go through Spring Training and he and [Quintana] were kind of in the same role," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Hernandez. "So you're hoping to catch lightning twice."
There's a chance Hernandez won't be around long enough to make the same sort of huge impact as Quintana. With Floyd placed on the disabled list retroactive to July 8, he is eligible to come off July 23 at home against the Twins.
Floyd has every intention of making that start and hopes his right elbow cooperates.
"I haven't picked up a ball in a couple of days," said Floyd, who felt the tendinitis really kick in during his July 7 home start against the Blue Jays. "I don't know how it feels throwing a ball, but I've been doing treatment and just trying to give it some time to cool down.
"We have a lot of season left. I want to be there for the rest of the season and be strong and give my best effort out there without having any doubts whether something is going to get worse or something like that."
Treatment is on the docket for Floyd on Tuesday and Wednesday. He's going to throw on Thursday and then throw a bullpen session on Friday to get ready for Monday. Floyd doesn't look at this injury as much of a setback after an MRI showed no structural damage.
"These days off are going to be pretty important for calming things down," Floyd said.
"He checked out," said Ventura of Floyd. "You want these guys to be as healthy as they can when they go out there and have no doubts at all about what's going on physically."
Crain looks to be ready by Sunday
BOSTON -- White Sox reliever Jesse Crain threw a successful simulated game Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park and possibly could return from the disabled list by Sunday without going through a Minor League rehab assignment.
"That's going to be up to them, but I think I'll be ready to throw in a game this weekend," said Crain, who has been on the disabled list retroactive to June 24 with a right shoulder strain. "That's just going to [be] dictated by if I throw another bullpen or game on Thursday. I'll be ready probably by Sunday. I don't know if they'll use me."
"Pitching a rehab thing today against Major League hitters has got to be at least the equivalent of throwing 15 pitches in a Triple-A setting," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. "It went well today and we'll see how he feels tomorrow."
Crain didn't get up and down as if he were throwing two different innings. But the veteran right-hander threw 28-29 pitches, using his full repertoire, and worked as if he was in various counts.
"I felt good throwing my pitches and I think by the next time I do it I'll probably be at 100 percent," Crain said. "I was at probably 90-95 percent today with everything I was doing. I want to get a little sharper with my slider. But curveball, fastball, changeup, I felt good."
Konerko's average taking a dip
BOSTON -- Since May 27, when his average peaked at .399, Paul Konerko has hit .231 and seen his average drop to .320. But manager Robin Ventura said Konerko won't be moving out of his familiar cleanup spot in the order any time soon.
"It would have to be for a while. Maybe in October," said Ventura with a smile of his captain, who had two hits and one RBI during Tuesday's 7-5 victory over the Red Sox. "When you're where he was and then it doesn't happen for a while, you get frustrated.
"He's just missing balls and even last night, it looked like a regular swing that he had, and it just popped up. So you go through phases during the season you wish you could get out of and can't necessarily do that. I think eventually he'll get out of it."
Third to first
Adam Dunn recorded his 46th game, the most in the Majors, with a walk and a strikeout during Tuesday's 7-5 win over the Red Sox. He also swiped his first base since Aug. 16, 2008, at Houston while playing for Arizona. Addison Reed's 15 saves are the most among Major League rookies. The White Sox are 13-14 against left-handed starters but have won five of their last six games against southpaws.