04/06/2013 4:45 PM ET
Bullpen versatility a major benefit for Sox
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Hector Santiago threw 48 pitches over three innings of relief in Thursday afternoon's loss to the Royals. Matt Lindstrom's middle work out of the bullpen covered 2 1/3 innings behind starter Jose Quintana on Friday night against Seattle.
But the most interesting thing about the White Sox' bullpen is that the next time these two hurlers take the mound, they could be working in a late-inning situation. Pure talent helped the relief crew work 12 1/3 scoreless innings to start the season, but the versatility of the seven relievers gives manager Robin Ventura plenty of options on any given night.
"One day, I can be the long guy. The next day, I can come back and face the lefty and have a day off, and be in the ninth inning and finish the game," Santiago said. "Addison [Reed] has his role and Matt [Thornton] has his role. Everybody has their role, but anybody can throw any time in any game."
"Even Hector being our long guy can go out there and be a setup man or even closer," Thornton said. "We have a lot of versatility out there, and a lot of opportunities for guys that can go out in any situation and pick the team up. We all go down there and are ready to go from the get-go."
Prior to Nate Jones giving up two runs in his second inning of work Friday night, the bullpen had thrown five hitless innings from the fifth to the ninth against the Mariners. First batters are hitless in nine at-bats against White Sox relievers and all 10 inherited runners had been stranded until the eighth inning of Saturday's 4-3 win.
Having this deep bullpen shortens the game for a starter, meaning the relievers can pick up someone such as Quintana, who struggled on Friday, or a pitcher such as Jake Peavy, who can go all out in his last inning knowing he has quality help behind him. Reed clearly has the closer's role and some mix of Thornton, Jones and Jesse Crain work as setup men.
Lindstrom, Santiago and Donnie Veal also can pitch anywhere from the fifth to the ninth, depending on the situation.
"This is definitely a really good group of guys," Thornton said.
Keppinger to remain starter despite slow start
CHICAGO -- There is no dilemma for White Sox manager Robin Ventura in regard to filling third base in his starting lineup.
Yes, Jeff Keppinger has one single in 21 at-bats to start this season and is mired in a 0-for-19 funk. And yes, Conor Gillaspie made an immediate impact with two hits, two runs scored and strong defensive play during Saturday's 4-3 victory over the Mariners.
All of those facts basically add up to Gillaspie potentially getting a start at third base on Sunday against right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, but Keppinger and his .288 career average are certainly staying as the starter at the position.
"We don't have any dilemmas," Ventura said. "Probably tomorrow, get [Gillaspie] in there and give him a couple at-bats here and there. I think with Kep, it's just a small sample. You know his track record and it'll change."
Gillaspie picked up his first career triple, and first hit with the White Sox, but wasn't pushing for any extra at-bats based on his strong effort against one of the game's best in Felix Hernandez.
"My job is to come in when I'm asked," Gillaspie said. "If guys need a breather or whatever, come in and do the best job I can and contribute. Whether it's getting hits, making plays or hitting a 20-hopper to second to score a run, that's my role on this team. I've got to keep working hard and keep trying to do it."
Cooper not worried about Quintana's start
CHICAGO -- In White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper's estimation, Jose Quintana pitched better than the five earned runs and eight hits he allowed over four-plus innings against the Mariners on Friday would indicate.
"I thought Quintana was very good for the first four innings. The first [hit] is a fly ball. I turn my head, the ball gets up high and carries out. Hello, Cellular Field," said Cooper, referring to Franklin Gutierrez's leadoff homer to right. "If the wind is blowing the same way toward the end of the game, Adam Dunn's is probably a game-winner, I'd like to think.
"But that's the way it goes. I thought he was very good through four, and in the fifth inning OK, leadoff double, no big deal. But the play at first base when the throw was slightly behind him and he had to go bare hand and he took his eyes off the ball for a split second to try and find the bag, it's like a bunt play. We need to get an out on that play, we didn't get it and that opened the door for a bigger inning."
Quintana was a revelation for the White Sox last season, posting a 4-1 record and a 2.04 ERA prior to the All-Star break. But as his innings total grew, the southpaw's effectiveness tumbled to a 5.01 second-half ERA and a 6.75 ERA over six games and five starts in September.
Cooper isn't focused on the 24-year-old Colombian native needing a good 2013 start to erase last season's rough finish.
"The second half of last year means nothing. It means nothing," Cooper said. "Listen, this kid last year, if you remember, came from basically A-ball, he had two weeks in Double-A, pitched his [butt] off, and as the year went on his innings total got as high as it has ever been. There is a big difference from throwing 140 innings in the Major Leagues and 140 innings in the Minor Leagues. There's no rest in the lineup.
"All I look at from last year is, where do we need to go, what do we need to improve on, how do we round out a guy's game and continue to put a guy in a good direction career wise and success wise? In the moment right now, we just have to keep trying to make more pitches and obviously we can't let a ball like that, a little roller like that to first base, that has to be an out."
Sox to debut 1983 throwback jerseys
CHICAGO -- After wearing 1972 throwback jerseys during 13 Sunday home games as part of the 2012 season, the White Sox will turn to 1983 throwback jerseys in honor of the "Winning Ugly" division champions this season. That begins on Sunday, and once again covers 13 home games.
The uniforms feature the red, navy blue and primary white pullover jersey with the block "S-O-X" across the chest, and a vintage patch on the left sleeve, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the All-Star Game, which was played at Old Comiskey Park. The throwback uniforms also include the tri-color White Sox cap.
"We wore them a couple of years ago in a throwback game. I think everybody is excited to wear them," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "I think everybody likes them better that the ones last year for some reason.
"It'll be cool. I think the '83 team, you still see those uniforms a lot, fans wear them. I'm sure fans will get a kick out of them and hopefully we can win games like they did in '83 because they won the division."
Manager Robin Ventura joked Saturday that assistant hitting coach Harold Baines, who was part of that '83 team, will wear his actual jersey from that time.
• Dewayne Wise played center field for the White Sox on Saturday and everyday center fielder Alejandro De Aza moved to left. The two feel most comfortable defensively in this particular alignment when they are both in the starting lineup.
• Ventura did not give Adam Dunn the green light for his fourth-inning stolen base on Friday, but understood why the slugger made his break.
"You get to a point where, if they aren't going to pay attention, they can take advantage of it," Ventura said.