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: White Sox kick off 10-game homestand vs. A's tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox kick off 10-game homestand vs. A's tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Oakland Athletics tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Mike Pelfrey (3-5, 3.56 ERA) vs. Jharel Cotton (4-7, 5.40 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

How White Sox players managed the 'chaos' of Thursday's record-setting rain delay

How White Sox players managed the 'chaos' of Thursday's record-setting rain delay

MINNEAPOLIS -- Some guys played cards. The soccer ball got kicked around in spite of the close quarters in the visiting clubhouse. There was dancing. A magic trick or two was attempted. A few players even tried to get in a nap.

White Sox players found myriad ways to keep themselves occupied during Thursday’s draining 4-hour, 50-minute rain delay -- the longest in Minnesota Twins history.

Yet despite not knowing what time the game may start, White Sox players found a way to overcome the uncertainty and stay engaged. Similar to May 26 when the first game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers was cancelled, the White Sox figured out how to go from zero to 60 in mere seconds. Though there’s no exact formula for success, the White Sox seem to have figured out a way to endure the elements and get out quickly. On early Thursday evening, the White Sox overcame the rain and misery to jump ahead of the Minnesota Twins en route to a 9-0 victory at Target Field.

“We keep it real loose whether,” veteran third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We have a good time. We enjoy each other’s company. Win lose or draw, tomorrow’s a new day. Today we kept working hard and we knew we had a game to play and eventually we were going to play it. We turned it on at the right moment.”

Jose Quintana saw so much of his iPad that eventually he had to turn it off out of sheer boredom. Thursday’s starting pitcher was almost able to complete two feature-length movies during the rain delay. Quintana, who excelled with nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 scoreless innings, watched ‘Fast and Furious 7’ and ‘Get Out’ on his iPad during the delay.

While he liked the action movie, Quintana wasn’t as fond of the latter, though he admits he’s not a big fan of horror movies.

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“I think it was bad because too much time in front of the iPad,” Quintana said. “It made me bored.

“I just tried to stay relaxed, focused on the game. … Tried to come back and work a little bit. It’s a little hard, but we don’t have control so stay focused on the game.”

Whereas the White Sox determined when they played last month at home -- they cancelled Game 1 of a doubleheader at 1 p.m. and pushed the second game back to 8 p.m. because of rain -- this time was in the Twins’ hands. The forecast called for rain all afternoon before things cleared up around 5 p.m.

While the White Sox were in limbo as to when they would play, they had a pretty good idea that eventually they would.

“It’s miserable,” Frazier said. “You try and find some things to do, play cards, hang out with the guys. If you had a set time it would help. But we came out banging in that first inning. It’s huge.”

White Sox manager Rick Renteria is impressed with how his team has handled both long days. The White Sox also defeated the Tigers 8-2 on May 26th. While Renteria and his coaching staff spent a lot of his time preparing for their upcoming home series against the Oakland A’s, he’s pleased with how his players managed themselves through the uncertainty.  

“They’re the ones who are dealing with the chaos,” Renteria said. “They’re the ones who play the game and who have to have their minds to be ready to go out and perform. They’ve been able to respond well. It’s part of who they are, their character, and hopefully it’s something they continue to be able to do and build on.”