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.

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.

But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.

Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.

“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”

Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.

But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.

“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”

Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.

“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”

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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.

He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.

And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’

But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.

“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”

“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

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

First pitch is at 7:10 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: James Shields (1-1, 4.26 ERA) vs. Luis Cessa (0-2, 6.57 ERA)

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