Cooper on his ever-changing pitching staff

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Cooper on his ever-changing pitching staff

With Sergio Santos traded to the Blue Jays, you might be wondering who will be the White Sox closer in 2012.

Addison Reed? Matt Thornton? Jesse Crain? Other??

Hearing the comments made by pitching coach Don Cooper to Comcast SportsNet, its looking like were not going to know until the end of spring training.

May the suspense begin.

Its going to be wide open, Cooper said of the closer situation Tuesday on Chicago Baseball Hot Stove. Its too early. We dont know. Weve got to sit down and talk about it. In spring training, well see how it shapes up. Im a big believer in this: that theyll show you.

And not just for the closer role.

With Chris Sale moving to the rotation, Jason Frasor traded back to Toronto, and the possibility that the White Sox still might trade Thornton and the 11 million he is owed for the next two seasons, the bullpen is in line for one serious makeover.

If youre a Sox minor league pitcher ready to take the next step or a free agent reliever looking for a job, Glendale might be the best place to be come spring training.

Were going to have openings on the pitching staff. There might be three, possibly four openings for somebody to make our team, Cooper said. You know whats going to happen? Competition is going to happen at spring training. Were going to watch it, and theyre going to stand up and show us who needs to be on the team, who needs to get on the plane to leave and start the opening series in Texas, and its exciting.

But the bullpen is not the only big shake-up for Cooper. For the first time since he became pitching coach in 2002, he wont be able to rely on his 200-inning machine, Mark Buehrle. The two actually started working together after the Sox drafted Buehrle in 1998 when Cooper was the teams minor league pitching coordinator.

Will he feel a void? You bet.

I havent felt the loss right yet, Cooper said. I think Ill personally feel it in spring training and during the season. Its more of him just not being there. As a pitching coach, you have relationships with everybody, and this is my longest relationship with anybody. So when that guy is not there, theres going to be a void. I havent felt it yet, but Im sure I will during the season.

Especially if the rotation struggles.

Its our job to replace that and to find a person or persons that will fill that void, Cooper said. The starting rotation has to pick up those 200 innings, and hopefully quality innings. I talked to Buehrle and Im happy for him.

Losing Buehrle will be painful. If the Sox had also lost John Danks, the pain would have been excruciating.

Danks is going to be with us for the next handful of years," Cooper said. "Im excited about that for him. Were looking for him to be a leader, and how do you lead? By going out there and giving us a shot to win that game.

For the White Sox to contend in 2012I think you know the rest: Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Jake Peavy need to have bounce-back years.

Peavy showed flashes of his old self last season, and now that hes a year-and-a-half removed from the experimental surgery in which he had a latissimus dorsi muscle reattached to his right shoulder, he could be ready to take that next stepif his body lets him.

He had an up-and-down season because he had an unbelievably new surgery, an injury that nobody else had had in baseball, Cooper said. I think everything last year kind of went the way we were expecting it to go: ups and downs because of what I just mentioned, a never-been-done surgery. But now hes past that surgery. Were looking for Jake Peavy to get to giving us a chance every single time out there to win that ballgame, and last year we saw glimpses of it. He should be given a pass on the past. But now, here we go.

With the White Sox entering the season with so many unknowns, all while trying to both retool and win at the same time, theyll likely go into 2012 as heavy underdogs.

What kind of attitude will it take to change that? Cooper has an idea.

My credo right now is, Were going to roll up our sleeves and see what we can do, and give them the best that we got.

Considering how much of that was missing from last years team that had a record 127 million payroll, thats not a bad place to start.

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson's foot could keep him out until late May

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson's foot could keep him out until late May

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Charlie Tilson will spend another three weeks in a walking boot and is likely out until at least the end of May.

The White Sox outfielder has been wearing the boot ever since he re-aggravated a stress reaction in his right foot earlier this month. Tilson is also rehabbing a torn hamstring that required surgery last August and ended his 2016 season early.

The White Sox later downed the San Francisco Giants 4-3 at Camelback Ranch. Catcher Roberto Pena had a two-out, two-run single in the ninth.

“It’s likely going to be a little bit of a process from there,” Tilson said. “One of those things you have to listen to your body. Like I said, it may take more time than I would like. But the ultimate goal is to be sustainable and get myself back to where I need to be.”

The White Sox top options for center field remain veteran Peter Bourjos and prospect Jacob May. They also could use Leury Garcia in center, manager Rick Renteria said.

Center field is one of several open roster battles with only three full days to go in camp. The team is off on Thursday before playing a pair of exhibition games at Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday.

“We’ll figure it out, and it could be in the next couple of days,” Renteria said. “We just have to allow it to play out and then make a determination at that point.”

The White Sox also have two spots up for grabs in the back of the bullpen. Michael Ynoa, who is out of options, non-roster invitees Anthony Swarzak, Cory Luebke and Matt Purke, and rookie Zack Burdi are vying for jobs. Rookie Juan Minaya is likely to start the season on the disabled list.

Rule 5 draftee Dylan Covey, who pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday, could figure into the team’s plans even more if Carlos Rodon starts the season on the disabled list. Covey is expected to start for the White Sox on Wednesday against the San Diego Padres.

Sunday’s starter James Shields said he’s ready for the regular season after throwing five innings. Shields allowed three earned runs and eight hits, walked three and struck out two.

He finished the Cactus League with a 3.45 ERA in 15 2/3 innings.

“Overall I felt good and I’m ready to move on,” Shields said. “These last couple outings I’ve been trying to work on my two-seam fastball. Today it was a little erratic, but overall felt pretty good.”

Nate Jones struck out two in a scoreless inning pitched. David Robertson, Blake Smith and Dan Jennings also pitched a scoreless inning.

Jose Abreu doubled and walked in four trips. Melky Cabrera singled twice in three trips.

Nick Delmonico takes advantage of fresh start with White Sox

Nick Delmonico takes advantage of fresh start with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Given he was almost out of baseball just two years ago, White Sox farmhand Nick Delmonico never imagined he’d be where he is now.

But the former Baltimore Orioles/Milwaukee Brewers prospect feels like he has rid himself of the off-the-field issues that stunted development early in his career.

In 2014, Delmonico served a suspension for unauthorized use of Adderall and later asked for and was granted his release by Milwaukee. Now with a fresh start with the White Sox, he heads into the final week of camp with an outside shot at the roster. Though he’s likely to start the season at Triple-A Charlotte, Delmonico knows he has made tremendous progress both on and off the field the past two years.

“I definitely did not see this,” Delmonico said. “I’m very blessed to be here.

“It feels awesome. It feels like I’ve accomplished a lot just in my life to get here. Just being around my teammates is one of the biggest things I enjoy every day, just coming to the ballpark. I’m very happy and honored to be able to come here everyday.”

The White Sox weren’t sure what to expect when they signed Delmonico, 24, to a minor league deal on Feb. 11, 2015. A sixth-round pick by the Orioles in 2011, Delmonico received a $1.525 million signing bonus. He was traded to Milwaukee in July 2013 in exchange for closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Delmonico received a 50-game suspension for Adderall in 2014, which he told the Charlotte News Observer he’d used since high school for attention deficit disorder (ADD). Delmonico told the Observer he informed Milwaukee that he no longer wanted to play baseball, changed his phone number and asked for his release. He was placed on the restricted list on July 28 and never played in the Brewers farm system again.

The White Sox signed Delmonico seven months after his final game with Milwaukee and he returned to the field that June.

Delmonico requested privacy when asked about switching teams but acknowledged, “I had some past issues with some stuff that I’d like to keep to myself,” he said.

Delmonico started the 2015 season at Single-A Kannapolis and was promoted a week later to Double-A Birmingham. He finished the season with a .733 OPS and made an additional 76 plate appearances at the Arizona Fall League.

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Last season, Delmonico combined to hit .279/.347/.490 with 17 homers between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 110 games. That earned him an invite to big league camp, where Delmonico has displayed a swing refined the past two seasons.

Current third-base coach and former director of player development Nick Capra said Delmonico has worked hard to go from a pull hitter to one who uses the entire field. He entered Sunday hitting .268/.328/.589 with nine extra-base hits this spring in a team-high 61 plate appearance this spring.

“This kid has made a complete turnaround from when we first got him in camp,” Capra said. “He’s done everything. He’s done probably more than we expected him to do. He’s in a really great place. He has a personality that people kind of gravitate to and it’s been a blessing to have him around and see the smile on his face when he comes to work every day.”

Originally a third baseman, the White Sox have moved Delmonico around this spring. He’s logged time at first base and also in the outfield as they try to improve his versatility. If Delmonico performs well at Charlotte, there’s no reason he couldn’t eventually find his way to Chicago and succeed in the big leagues.

“We’re continuing to try to explore his ability to play third base,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He can obviously play first. We’ve started using him in left field. He’s a young man that has a bat to carry. Can hit the ball out of the ballpark. Gives you good at-bats. There’s something to him about his personality and the way he carries himself, which is infectious, which we like.”

Delmonico praised the family-feel that has been prominent in the White Sox clubhouse this spring. He had some jitters coming into his first big league camp but hasn’t allowed them to hinder anything.

He likes how Renteria and his staff have brought a young group of players together. And best of all, he’s happy to be in the right place to enjoy the experience.

“It definitely gives you confidence what you do here,” Delmonico said. “You’ve got to keep moving forward. The biggest thing for big league camp for me is learning as much as I can from everybody. And learning from myself, I’ve been able to handle things and try to pick up as much as I can.”