With Frasor gone, who's in the Sox bullpen?

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With Frasor gone, who's in the Sox bullpen?

As Jason Frasor makes his way back to Toronto, the White Sox 2012 bullpen currently has four locks: Addison Reed, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton and Will Ohman. That leaves three spots open.
One of those will probably go to Zach Stewart to fill a long reliever role, although Dylan Axelrod could pitch his way into a roster spot if he has a good spring or Stewart tanks in Arizona. Maybe the Sox take both Axelrod and Stewart, although whoever doesn't end up in the MLB pen would be better served pitching out of Charlotte's starting rotation.
So with two spots open, here's a rundown of who could break camp with the Sox in early April:
Hector Santiago: The screwballing lefty fits more as a long reliever if he'll be in a bullpen role, but he's perhaps the most impressive arm the Sox currently could call upon. That being said, the Sox could also elect to put Santiago in Charlotte's starting rotation -- a move that would be worth it, since starting pitching is much more valuable than long relief.

Gregory Infante: Control is still an issue for Infante, who walked 32 with 59 strikeouts in 68 13 innings across Double-A, Triple-A and the majors last year. He has a power arm but not the gaudy minor league strikeout totals to back it up. That being said, he's on the 40-man roster and will be 25 in July. He's also one of the better options the Sox have under their control at this point, which, depending on your point of view, may not be a good thing.
Brian Bruney: The Sox brought Bruney back on a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training after the righty posted a 5.87 ERA with the Sox in 2011. He had some decent results in the majors before regressing hard in his final few games, after which he was designated for assignment. He doesn't have much upside, but at least the Sox will be aware of what they're getting if he winds up in the 2012 bullpen.
Jhan Marinez: One of the players the Sox received from Miami in the Ozzie Guillen swap, Marinez is a power arm with even more control issues than Infante. Over 58 innings in Double-A last season, Marinez walked 42 with 74 strikeouts. It's hard to imagine the Sox going with a guy who averaged 6.5 walks per nine innings unless he blows everyone away in the spring.
Deunte Heath: Another guy with control issues, Heath walked 62 in 102 23 innings splitting time between the rotation and bullpen in Charlotte last year. He did strike out 117 and does have the ability to throw multiple innings, but he didn't walk a batter in just two of his 14 relief appearances in Triple-A last year. And he walked two or more in half of those appearances.
Simon Castro: The righty acquired from San Diego in the Carlos Quentin trade may ultimately wind up as a reliever, but the Sox will almost certainly give him a shot at starting first before dumping him in the bullpen.
Jacob Petricka: He's another guy who may wind up pitching in relief but will get a shot to start next season, albeit at Double-A.
Other less likely candidates: Anthony Carter, Nathan Jones, Donnie Veal
An outside source: Adding a reliever via either free agency or a trade could be a route the Sox go, but if they do, they need to be careful to not overpay for the fourth or fifth guy out of their bullpen -- in other words, someone who won't have as big an impact as Thornton, Crain or Reed.

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Having experienced a playoff-like atmosphere at the World Baseball Classic, David Robertson and Nate Jones already feel prepared for the regular season. 

The two relievers returned to White Sox camp on Friday morning bearing gold medals from a Team USA WBC title run that concluded on Wednesday night with an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Robertson, who recorded the final three outs of the clinching victory, said he's glad to be back and won't need much of a tune-up to be ready for the April 3 season opener.

"Back up to speed?" Robertson said. "More like slow down and get ready for the season. I'll probably play catch (Friday). I didn't throw (Thursday), I spent the day traveling. Probably play catch today, and be ready to throw (Saturday). If I needed to throw today, I could. I feel like I'm season ready right now."

"It feels good to be back. It's been a long trip doing this WBC, so it's good to be back and relax a little bit. Have a couple days before we start the season."

Both Jones and Robertson appeared four times each for Team USA with similar results. Each allowed a solo home run but nothing else. Jones said he brought his gold medal back to camp because he isn't yet ready to put it in his safety deposit box. His favorite moments of the tournament were brought on by raucous crowds.

"Once you get a crowd chanting USA that was a pretty cool moment," Jones said. "You're proud of representing your country, and once they did that, it all kind of set in, like, ‘Wow, this is happening.'

"It's just pure excitement, everybody going crazy."

Jones and Robertson said they're pleased to have returned to the relative tranquility of White Sox camp after they lived out of a suitcase for the previous 18 days. Both were set to meet with pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Rick Renteria to discuss their upcoming schedule. Jones said he expected to throw a side session on Friday in front of Cooper to have his mechanics reviewed. Robertson last pitched on Wednesday and didn't know when he'd throw again.

"They've been busy, obviously, with Robbie finishing up the last game," Renteria said. "We'll see how the schedule lines up in terms of their usage for the remaining 9-10 days."

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Robertson is pretty sure he won't need much work. Whereas the team's closer normally waits until the first week of March to appear in a game, Robertson has pitched in plenty this spring. Each of the last four has had a ton more intensity than any normal Cactus League work.

"It felt like playoff baseball really early in the year," Robertson said. "Just coming from Miami, trying to win a couple days in there was really hard. Fans were really loud. That place was a very intense environment, and it didn't feel like you were the home team at all.

"It felt like (a home game) when we were in San Diego We were the home team there, and when we got to L.A., same thing. Although, I will say that when we were playing the Japanese, it erupted a couple times when they had some big moments in their game. It was just a lot of fun to play in this whole event. It was definitely more than I expected."

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

 

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana has been named the Opening Day starter — for the White Sox.

While many are surprised he still hasn't been traded, few should be shocked by the news manager Rick Renteria delivered on Friday, when he announced Quintana would pitch the April 3 opener.

With Chris Sale gone to Boston, Quintana, a first-time All-Star in 2016, has been the odds-on favorite to take over as the team's ace. The only question seemed to be whether or not he'd still be in a White Sox uniform when the season began. But the club made it clear Friday that Quintana is their guy and he'll face the Detroit Tigers in the first game of 2017. The only one who seemed a little taken aback about the news is Quintana.

"I was surprised," Quintana said. "I knew I may get the ball for that day, but they didn't say nothing, so you didn't know. I just kept going and doing my workouts and all my stuff. I'm really, really happy with this opportunity. It's huge for me. I can't wait for that day to come.

"I'm excited to have this opportunity. It's a huge honor for me to have the ball for Opening Day the first time in my life. And I think it's a once-in-a-life opportunity."

Asked about the announcement earlier in the week, Renteria said he needed more time. Many speculated that it meant the White Sox were continuing to listen to offers for Quintana, who has drawn constant interest since the team began its rebuild in December.

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Quintana, who went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 208 innings last season, has looked fantastic all spring. Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts on Thursday, Quintana made his first Cactus League appearance in a month and allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings. The left-hander also put on a brilliant performance for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Team USA hitters he faced before allowing a hit.

"He's very happy about it," Renteria said. "He has obviously earned it.

"I don't know if he was surprised as much as he was elated and proud to be given the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter. It's a privilege."

Quintana's resume of consistency made him a clear-cut choice for the nod. He heads into 2017 having pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons. In that span, he's produced a 3.32 ERA and 18.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. That figure represents the seventh-highest WAR total among all big league pitchers in that span.

Even though he's viewed as the staff ace, Quintana — who potentially has four years and $36.85 million left on his current contract — said he was surprised by the news because the club hadn't yet informed him of the honor.

"It means a lot for me, especially after last year when you make the All-Star team and this year the opportunity to play in the WBC and now you have the opportunity to pitch on Opening Day," Quintana said. "That's a lot of things happening for me now and I'm happy. And really blessed. You just try to do all my things every time.

"Maybe they don't know what it means for me, but it's a big thing."