Don Cooper: 'We've Got to Win Games'

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Don Cooper: 'We've Got to Win Games'

Friday, April 16, 2010
2:18 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Its a few hours before the White Sox take the field in Cleveland. I give pitching coach Don Cooper a phone call to talk about his stellar bullpen which hasnt given up a run in the last six games, a streak totaling 17 13 innings.

But Coop is not a happy camper.

"Heck, weve played 10 games for crying out loud," Cooper said. "Everybody wants to draw conclusions from a lot of different things. Yes, I like what theyre doing. Its better than getting their asses kicked thats for sure. But weve got 152 games left, and were sitting at 4-6. Nobody is digging that. We've got to win games.

OK

Lets talk about rookie phenom Sergio Santos, who struck out the side Thursday night, getting Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, and John Buck. All swinging. The converted shortstop hasnt given up a run or even a hit in four innings out of the bullpen. Youve got to be impressed with him, right?

"Hes had four appearances and hes done well so far," said a slightly impressed Cooper. "Weve got a long way to go. This is a great story, but its chapter one."

So, how does Coop explain his lightning quick transformation? Two years ago, Santos was a Blue Jays minor league shortstop. Last year, his first season as a pitcher with the White Sox, he was 0-3 in the minors with an 8.16 earned run average. Now hes firing 96 mph fastballs past the team he wasnt good enough to play for, and it looks like hes been on the mound for years.

Before this experiment began, when was the last time Santos pitched in a game?

Freshman year in high school.

"Hes got a power fastball, a power breaking ball and a power changeup. Hes got three power pitches," Cooper said. "Now its a matter of learning how to pitch and being consistent and being ahead, which is what hes been doing so far."

That certainly wasnt the case Thursday night with Freddy Garcia, who got torched by the Jays, giving up seven runs on eight hits in three-plus innings.

He never had it. And Cooper didnt dance around it.

"Freddy did not pitch well last night at all," Cooper said. "His command was not up to snuff or where it needs to be."

Two games under .500 is not where the Sox need to be either. They have the talent (and certainly the time) to turn it around. However, there are many concerned fans and media members who arent so sure, overly sensitive about the Sox cold start.

Cooper took it even further.

"Theyre sensitive about what happens in spring training! Theyre still thinking that spring training matters or that it counts," he said. "Everything that goes on, the media is sensitive to stuff because youve got to write stuff and break stuff. Its just 10 games. People are probably writing us off. Thats OK, too. Whatever you guys want to do is fine with me, but Im just telling it like it is."

That means telling a reporter that his idea about doing a story on a lights-out bullpen in April is a bad idea. The story is bigger, and yet simpler than that.

"Its not about the bullpen, its not about the starting pitching, its not about the hitting or defense. Its about winning games. When we dont do that, none of this really matters. The one conclusion Ill give you is this: were sitting at 4-6. We certainly didnt expect to be that starting out.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Preview: Carlos Rodon, White Sox open final series of season vs. Twins on CSN+

Preview: Carlos Rodon, White Sox open final series of season vs. Twins on CSN+

The White Sox open their final series of the season tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon (8-10, 4.08 ERA) vs. Tyler Duffey (9-11, 6.18 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.

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White Sox five-game winning streak snapped with loss to Rays

White Sox five-game winning streak snapped with loss to Rays

The playoffs were the ultimate goal and he probably would have liked another victory on Thursday night.

But Jose Quintana has plenty to be proud about when he takes stock of his 2016 campaign, which ended with a 5-3 White Sox loss to the Tampa Rays in front of 14,792 at U.S. Cellular Field. The first-time All-Star’s record dropped to 13-12 after he allowed two earned runs in six innings in his final start, but not before Quintana established career highs for innings pitched, strikeouts and earned-run average. The loss guaranteed a fourth straight losing season for the White Sox, who haven’t reached the postseason since 2008.

“I’m happy with my year,” Quintana said. “But every time I say it’s not about me. It’s about the team. We’ll try to finish strong in the next series against the Twins and come back next year to have a better year than this one.”

Quintana had the best individual season of his career. If he’d received any kind of run support from his teammates, he’d be at or near the top of the leaders for wins, too.

But same as he has for the past four seasons, Quintana didn’t receive any run support yet again on Thursday, though this time can be attributed to a stellar performance by Chris Archer.

Archer held down early an offense that had Quintana ranked 116th out of 132 qualified starting pitchers in run support. The White Sox only had two runners reach scoring position in the time Quintana pitched (one scored). By the time Archer slowed down, the White Sox bullpen allowed three runs and the contest was nearly out of reach at 5-1.

Still, Quintana was good enough to win yet again in a season full of comparable efforts.

He allowed a run in the second inning on a bloop RBI single by Alexei Ramirez and another in the fourth on a solo homer by Mikie Mahtook. Other than that he was his normal efficient self, striking out seven and limiting the Rays to two runs and five hits in six innings.

The effort lowered Quintana’s ERA to 3.20 (his previous low was 3.32 in 2014). He also surpassed his previous high-inning mark of 206 1/3 with 208 this season. And, Quintana, who eclipsed the 10-win mark for the first time in his career, finished with 181 strikeouts, three more than he in 2014.

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White Sox manager Robin Ventura thinks the overall production was a byproduct of the first All-Star nod for Quintana, who surpassed 200 innings for a fourth straight season.

“You wouldn’t think that would mean a lot, but it really does,” Ventura said. “I think that’s the stuff that can catapult somebody into things that are better and pushing him into the offseason, the optimistic stuff of going into next year.”

Quintana’s name often surfaces as an easy fix to some of the White Sox’ woes when it comes to next season.

With two guaranteed seasons and two club-friendly options left on his current contract, Quintana — who entered Thursday valued at 19.7 f-WAR for his career — is viewed as a stellar trade chip given the weak free agent class. It is believed the White Sox could solve several problem areas on the roster or add considerable depth to their farm system were they to make Quintana or Chris Sale available. Quintana knows the possibility exists but hopes he’s back with the White Sox next season and helping them end their postseason drought.

“I don’t have control about that,” Quintana said. “I don’t know nothing about trades. I’m here as a Chicago White Sox, and I want to be here for a long time. I’ll go home, rest and am going to be ready to start with my preparation for next year. I’ll be ready for that, but I don’t have control about trades.”