7/6/2014 10:00 P.M. ET
White Sox search for reliable closing options
By Joe Popely / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Without injured relievers Matt Lindstrom, the club's original closer, and Nate Jones, a late-inning righty considered to have closing potential, the White Sox have struggled to close out games this season.
After picking up his first career save June 28 at Toronto, Zach Putnam blew the save in Saturday's 3-2 loss in 14 innings to the Mariners. Ronald Belisario, who took the loss, has also been removed from the closer's role. Other than Belisario and Javy Guerra, nobody in the 'pen has significant closing experience.
"You're down there with a pretty young group. ... You're seeing them kind of get their feet wet and get in situations that they probably haven't been in before consistently," manager Robin Ventura said. "There's probably going to be some growing pains with it and hopefully those guys grow into being able to get it done."
Putnam is just 24, while Guerra, 28, has 29 career saves. The bullpen's 11 blown saves (not all coming in the ninth inning) are tied for fourth in the American League. Houston has the most with 15, while the Royals have the fewest with seven.
Ventura has maintained he is going with a closer-by-committee approach until someone emerges with consistent success. Another possibility is Jake Petricka, who entered with the bases loaded and picked up his second save of the year on June 27 at Toronto. As Ventura noted, the 26-year-old righty has performed well in a number of similarly high-leverage situations throughout the season.
"He's been used to that. I think his progression and his rise through the bullpen has been pretty impressive," Ventura said. "From where he started to where he is now, he's a pretty aggressive kid. Before you are more concerned about control and location and things like that. Now he pretty much has it."
Gillaspie leaves game with bruised knee
CHICAGO -- White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie exited in the fifth inning of Sunday's series finale with the Mariners with a bruised right knee.
With one out in the fifth and a 1-0 count, Gillaspie was drilled on the knee by reliever Dominic Leone. Gillaspie hit the ground in pain and limped around with some help from manager Robin Ventura. He was escorted off the field by trainer Herm Schneider, walking gingerly as he left.
Ventura hadn't seen Gillaspie since the injury when he addressed reporters following his team's 1-0 series-clinching win over the Mariners.
"I know he couldn't walk very well," Ventura said. It sounded bad and he seemed like he couldn't do anything, so we had to take him out."
Leury Garcia pinch-ran for Gillaspie at first.
Gillaspie, the team's leading hitter (.310 average), was placed on the disabled list on April 26 with a right hand contusion and later missed a May 24 game vs. the Yankees with a sore Achilles.
Jones, Lindstrom make progress in rehab
CHICAGO -- Injured late-inning relievers Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom are progressing, but both are a ways off from facing live competition, manager Robin Ventura said.
Jones, who underwent a microdisectomy procedure for his ailing back on May 5, continues to do some light throwing. The club is hopeful for a late July or early August return, but until he is throwing to hitters in a simulated game, it's hard to gauge his true progress.
Lindstrom isn't expected to be back until late August, because the recovery time for the left ankle surgery he had on May 21 is usually three months.
"Everybody is happy with their improvement and where they're going," Ventura said. "Does it mean they're going to play this year? I don't know. We'll see once they start physically going out and playing and seeing how that happens. We know the prognosis is good as far as they continue to improve."
Both are rehabbing with the team. Lindstrom was the team's original closer (he converted six saves in nine chances), and Jones was considered a potential closer if Lindstrom faltered. In their absence, Chicago's young bullpen has struggled to nail down games.
"It was a tough loss, especially when our bullpen is as young as it is," righty Jake Petricka said. "Luckily, we've got Nate and Matt able to sit in the 'pen now with us and give us their knowledge of what they can do while still on the DL. I know Matt's coming along well, and I'm hoping to have him back soon."
• Center fielder Adam Eaton has made some highlight-reel plays in which he's collided with the wall the past few days. The Sox have talked about getting Eaton to tone down his aggressive play so he can stay healthy, but Ventura doesn't mind the wall collisions so much as unnecessary aggressiveness on the basepaths.
"[Outfield aggressiveness], I will let him do. He can do that all he wants," Ventura said. "When you are going after an out, that's one thing. Running with no need to run, that would be another thing."
• Following Sunday's game, the Sox conclude the first half with a seven-game trip to Boston (four games) and Cleveland (three games). Chicago entered the finale against the Mariners just 18-26 on the road, compared to 23-21 at home.
• Double-A Birmingham first baseman Rangel Ravelo extended his hitting streak to a Southern League-leading 22-games Saturday night vs. Tennessee. He's hitting .368 with 10 doubles, two homers, 16 RBIs and 15 runs during the streak.
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.