4/29/2014 8:46 P.M. ET
Splitter big part of Putnam's relief success
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Among the 25 pitches thrown by Zach Putnam during two scoreless innings of relief on Monday night, 14 of them were split-finger fastballs per MLB.com's Gameday. It's a pitch that pretty much pushed the right-hander to the Majors, but because of the way Putnam throws the splitter, it's a pitch that doesn't provide worry in regard to extra stress placed upon his elbow.
"The way I throw it is more like a changeup," Putnam said. "So I don't ever have any strain or stress or anything like that. It doesn't do anything extra for my elbow.
"Guys that throw a true forkball that throw it over the top and wedge it in between their fingers, I can see how that would put extra strain on the elbow. I throw it more like a changeup, pronate it in my hand. Just let it go like a circle change, so there are no issues."
Putnam picked up innings for an overworked and inconsistent bullpen when he first joined the White Sox. But as the relief crew establishes itself, with a 2.31 ERA over its last 10 games entering Tuesday, Putnam has worked into late-inning opportunities.
Use of that splitter is a main reason for his success.
"I developed that pitch years and years ago. Kind of out of necessity," Putnam said. "Just more than anything taught myself playing catch with it in college."
Hahn recognizes opportunities to win 'are sacred'
CHICAGO -- If the White Sox continue to play impressive baseball as they have over the first 27 games this season, general manager Rick Hahn and the White Sox front office will have an important decision to make.
Their reshaping program that began last season was aimed at sustaining long-term success and winning multiple championships, not just providing a quick fix. But if Hahn's '14 squad proves to be a viable contender, not fool's gold with a hot start as Hahn discussed as a barometer during Spring Training, then the White Sox might have to part with some of that young nucleus to supplement a current playoff push.
It's a balancing act, according to Hahn, who truly appreciates how sacred the chances are to win World Series titles along with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and executive vice president Ken Williams.
"We are still very early in the season. We are still getting to know our own club," Hahn told MLB.com on Tuesday. "We are still dealing with some health issues, both ones we already have dealt with and others that inevitably will spring up. We are still getting to know the rest of the division and the league and what they will look like.
"Should we get to the point one month, two months from now, where we are in this thing and we are forcing the issue in terms of a chance to win, where we feel like we have a legitimate chance to win, we absolutely will look at ways to improve those chances in '14. Would we mortgage the future to do that? Probably not.
"It really is a balancing act," Hahn said. "You don't want to pass on a chance to win. They are sacred. At the same time, this is a long-term proposition we are trying to build here, sustain over an extended period, and we don't want to hamper our ability to do that."
Hahn believes that if the White Sox are in a position to conceivably win sooner than others expect, it will be because of the performance of players who will be with the White Sox for an extended period. He also believes the organization has positions of depth, where even if they aren't looking to move young players, those needed to bring back veteran commodities in return, they have the depth in those areas to fill in if the move is necessary.
As for having money to spend in July, the White Sox haven't gotten to that point yet.
"Let's put it this way," Hahn said. "Over my now entering 14 years here, when we've had a chance to win, there have been resources available to augment and improve those chances. We haven't had the conversation yet in terms of how much we would need economically much less where exactly we would spend it."
Sale unlikely to pitch this weekend
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale played catch again on Tuesday and is scheduled to play long toss Wednesday, per White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. But the likelihood doesn't seem high for the White Sox ace to pitch this weekend in Cleveland, when he's eligible to come off the disabled list, where he landed because of the flexor muscle strain in his left arm.
"It's slim at the best," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "Again, he'll throw and we'll see how he does.
"He's going to be the best judge of that. We can sit here and make all the plans we want, but until he throws and feels 100 percent, he can go out there and nothing is going to jump back on him, then he would throw."
The White Sox have John Danks, Scott Carroll and Andre Rienzo listed in order as pitching probables this weekend at Progressive Field.
Flowers' new look, production gaining attention
CHICAGO -- During pregame praise directed toward the White Sox by Joe Maddon on Monday night, the Tampa Bay manager pointed out that Tyler Flowers looked as if he was in better shape and appeared to be a different player compared to 2013. Flowers, who lost 12 pounds from the end of last season, agreed with Maddon's assessment.
"I can't disagree with him. I feel like a different player," Flowers said. "The whole works, catching, throwing, my stance, the swing, all of that.
"It feels good to be more productive. I think I showed that to the White Sox this spring. Otherwise, I wouldn't have the opportunity to be where I'm at right now. I guess other people see it, too."
Flowers entered Tuesday's start hitting .373 and with 28 hits. Twenty-five of those hits have been singles, which is not exactly the output expected from Flowers. But the White Sox catcher is not complaining.
"Paul [Konerko] was talking to me about it yesterday. I'd say it's a little more of a challenge for someone like myself to be content with things like that," said Flowers. "But Paul put it together real well for me, saying there's going to be times when you're going to be begging for singles, there's going to be times where you're 1-for-4, 1-for-5 with a double and a homer and you're going to say, 'Where are all my hits at?'
"You're going to 0-for for a while and then you're going to hit nothing but homers for two weeks. So, hopefully, this is a good foundation to lead me into whatever the next event is. Hopefully, that'll be hitting for a little more power, but again, if I can hit singles all year and have a high average, I'm OK with that. I don't think that'll necessarily happen, I'm sure I'll hit the barrel sometimes. But I'm definitely not going to complain about getting hits because I've been on the other end and sometimes it's very, very hard to get a hit."
Third to first
• Veteran infielder Jeff Keppinger is providing personal updates via the @JKeppinger account on his sore right shoulder that landed him on the disabled list to start the season.
He tweeted Monday from extended spring camp: "Made it through the whole game today! One more on Wednesday and finally out of AZ:)." And on April 21, Keppinger tweeted: "1-3 today and played 6 innings at 3rd!!! Things are starting to look up:)"
• White Sox legend and Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio celebrated his 80th birthday on Tuesday.
• Frank Francisco has not allowed an earned run over four innings and three games since joining Triple-A Charlotte. The veteran reliever has fanned six and walked just one.
• Courtney Hawkins leads the Carolina League with 27 RBIs and ranks second in all of the Minor Leagues for this category.