Poetry in Pros: Revolving Bullpen, Threets to DL

Poetry in Pros: Revolving Bullpen, Threets to DL

Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010
7:56 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

With all the talk surrounding Manny Ramirez, the Chicago White Sox and GM Ken Williams may want to shift the focus to the left-field space behind where Manny Ramirez soon could be roaming at U.S. Cellular Field.

Indeed, with Fridays season-ending injury to Erick Threets, who will be undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament, the need for bullpen help has seemingly leaped past the so-called shortcomings of Chicagos resurgent offense.

Wanting bullpen help and finding it are two different things, as White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen indicated before Saturdays game.

Its not easy, Guillen said. If Kenny wants to bring in somebody, thats up to Kenny.

The White Sox already have J.J. Putz (knee) and Matt Thornton (forearm) on the disabled list and need to be cautious with both Bobby Jenks, who has battled back spasms, and Chris Sale, who has a hard innings cap in his first professional season. Sale is currently the only left-hander in the bullpen, flanked by two other rookies, Lucas Harrell and Carlos Torres, who was called up from Charlotte on Saturday to replace Threets.

It was a very, very sad moment. He was throwing the ball very well, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said, adding that he sensed that something was very wrong. He knew he was hurt badly. He didnt know what to say.

Guillen indicated that with a short, delicate, inexperienced bullpen, he had one recourse in the short term.

When you have trouble in the bullpen, theres one thing youve got to do: Get the starters to go long, he said. If the starters go long, we are all right.

The skipper indicated he was hoping that Saturdays starter John Danks could pitch a complete game, but with six runs allowed by the lefty in the games first three innings, the southpaws pitches piled up and he was removed after just 4.1 innings, trailing 6-5.

The 28-year-old Threets had yet to allow an earned run in 2010, over 11.1 innings in 12 games. His 0.973 WHIP spoke to how well he had rectified the control issues that had plagued him in the past.

Torres will pitch in long relief for the White Sox after being a mainstay of the Knights rotation all season long. Hes 9-9 with a 3.52 ERA on the season and was 7-4 with a 3.12 ERA over his past 16 starts. Torres has held AAA opponents to a .221 batting average, striking out an International League second-best 138 batters in the process. The righty was named International League Pitcher of the Week in April, May and June, becoming the ninth player in IL history to be so honored three times in a season. He started for the White Sox on August 3 at the Detroit Tigers, pitching six innings and allowing five runs on nine hits. Torres also pitched in eight games for Chicago in 2009, going 1-2 with a 6.04 ERA.

Guillen put a smile on the circumstances regarding three Charlotte rookies (Sale, Harrell, Torres) in his bullpen.

We have two long relievers: Torres and Harrell, he said. That can save you. I still have confidence in the guys we have there. Hopefully well get through any problems, and I think we will.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Quintana and Miguel Gonzalez looked like a pair of pitchers who began their offseasons earlier to prep for the World Baseball Classic.

Both White Sox starting pitchers looked sharp as they made their spring debuts in a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Camelback Ranch on Sunday afternoon. Team USA relievers David Robertson and Nate Jones also pitched a scoreless inning each in the win. Prospect Zack Burdi also pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Gonzalez, who is on the Team Mexico roster, only allowed a single on a dropped pop up on the infield in two scoreless innings.

“I’m a little ahead of the game right now,” Gonzalez said. “I started a little earlier this year in the offseason to work out, thinking I wanted to go to the WBC and get ready for that. But I think the most important thing right now is getting ready for April 1 with the White Sox. That’s my goal, and you don’t get these opportunities every year. To represent Mexico, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be great.”

Quintana, who will start for Colombia in their March 10 opener against the United States, allowed a run and a hit in two innings. He struck out one and hit a batter.

“I feel good,” Quintana said. “I think for the first day I feel comfortable. I hit the glove. I feel good. A couple of pitches spinning were good and I feel really good.”

[RELATED: Jim Thome on being a finalist for National Baseball Hall of Fame]

Robertson is throwing much earlier than normal in anticipation of his March 6 departure for Miami, where Team USA begins its tournament. The club’s closer normally wouldn’t appear in a game until the calendar turns to March. Robertson said he usually only needs 5-6 spring outings to get in shape for the regular season. Though he felt a little rusty, the right-hander was pleased with several changeups and fastballs he threw.

“I wouldn’t say it was smooth but I got through it,” Robertson said. “I had a few bad pitches that were just not competitive. … All in all I got through what seemed like a tough inning for a first outing.

“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m going to go down there and put the ‘USA’ across my chest and have a chance to win something for our country. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m excited to play with a group of guys I’ve been playing against my whole life.”

Eddie Alvarez had a three-run double for the White Sox while Tyler Saladino collected two hits in three trips. Catcher Roberto Pena went 2-for-2 with an RBI. 

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Normally upbeat and positive, Jim Thome can’t help but beam with pride when asked about his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Thome, who blasted 612 career home runs, including 134 with the White Sox, is eligible for induction for the first time in 2018. Even though he’s expected by many to one day be voted into Cooperstown, perhaps even in his first year, Thome said he’s merely honored to be on the ballot. Thome is joined on the ballot by Chipper Jones and former teammate Omar Vizquel, among others. Voting begins in December and the results will be announced next January.

“To even be on the ballot and thought of, it would be the greatest honor I think you could get,” Thome said. “Or if you get an opportunity to go into the greatest fraternity baseball has or created, it would be indescribable. How do you ever think as a kid or a high school player or even going through the minor leagues, that you’d play at the big leagues that long? And then to get an opportunity at the end of your career to be put on the ballot is so great.

“That would be the coolest moment ever.”

Thome – who is in White Sox camp as a special assistant to the general manager – provided plenty of big moments in a career that spanned 22 seasons. He hit 30 home runs in 12 of 13 seasons between 1996-2008, leading the league with 47 in 2003. The slugger was a five-time All-Star and produced 72.9 b-Wins Above Replacement.

[RELATED: Brett Lawrie trying to clear final hurdles]

Thome isn’t as superstitious about his candidacy as others previously have been. He won’t be the guy to bring up the topic, but the Peoria, Ill.-native doesn’t shy away from discussing it, either.

“It’s not something you talk a lot about,” Thome said. “We’re not going to bring it up. But when people do bring it up, there’s a sense of pride, a sense of ‘Wow, baseball has thought that highly to put you on the ballot.’ And the fact that there’s just this wonderful fraternity of incredible players that you could be a part of, if you’re chosen.”