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.

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

 

The White Sox take on the Twins on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. 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: Jose Quintana (8-8, 2.97 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.40 ERA)

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

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

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

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

Back with White Sox, Chris Sale ready to move on from 'fiasco'

Back with White Sox, Chris Sale ready to move on from 'fiasco'

Even though he felt isolated and experienced a five-day stretch he called “a fiasco,” Chris Sale was right where he wants to be Thursday, surrounded by White Sox teammates.

Shortly after a 3-1 loss to the Cubs, the pitcher echoed the sentiments of White Sox management in a 10-minute media session when he suggested he’d like to move on from a five-game suspension for insubordination and destruction of team property.

With the trade deadline only four days away, Sale wants to stay with the White Sox and hopes the current roster gets an opportunity to win. He also thought an incident in which he destroyed promotional throwback jerseys had been blown out of proportion.

While he didn’t apologize for his actions, the left-hander said he regretted letting down his teammates and fans who attended Saturday’s game. Sale, whose record fell to 14-4 after he allowed two runs in six innings, said he plans to address White Sox players and coaches soon and intends to let them know his level of appreciation.

“I want to let them know where my head is at, where my heart is at,” Sale said. “And let them know how much I appreciate them.

“I felt like I was out on an island, really. 7 o’clock rolls around and I usually know what’s going on. Sitting at the house sucks.

“I regret not being there for my guys. I’m a pitcher. I’m called upon every fifth day and when I can’t go out there for my guys and the fans, it gets to me.”

Similar to March when he pitched a day after ripping executive vice president Kenny Williams, Sale said his focus is back on the field. He declined to answer what he didn’t like about the throwback jerseys, calling it “counterproductive.” Even though the White Sox are on the outside looking in, Sale is hopeful he and his teammates can rally and make a strong postseason push over the final 60 games.

“I think everyone is making just a little bit bigger deal of this then it really is,” Sale said. “We are here to win games and from this point forward, I think that’s our main focus. We are going to come in every day and do our jobs and try to win ballgames, that’s at the forefront.

“I don’t like people filling in for me. I love what I do. I love pitching. I love competing. I love the guys that I’m surrounded by.”

“When I let them down, it hurts me more than it hurts them.”

Three days after he suggested manager Robin Ventura didn’t properly support him, Sale declined to discuss their future relationship and again diverted the conversation back to the field. When asked what was the biggest lesson he took from the ordeal, Sale said he wasn’t quite sure.

“I know you guys are trying to get in there and you guys have to write stories and stuff,” Sale said. “I understand. But they said their side. I said my side. I’m ready to talk about baseball and playing baseball and getting back to winning and getting the Chicago White Sox into the postseason. That’s my goal. That’s my focus. Anything else, that’s for you guys.”

While he admits that his competitive side may have fed into Saturday’s events, he also knows abandoning it would hurt him on the field. Sale said he was inundated by texts and calls from teammates past and present during his absence. That only strengthened his desire to win with the current group, Sale said.

“There’s no doubt my emotions have got me to this point,” he said. “I wouldn’t be the same person without them but stuff happens. Move on. We have an unbelievable group of guys in that clubhouse. We’ll just push forward.

“I’m here to win. I love exactly where I’m at. I have an unbelievable group of guys in that clubhouse. We’re pulling for each other, they are pulling for me and vice versa, through and through. I’d like to stay with this group of guys and make a push for the playoffs because I love those guys.”

White Sox find normalcy in Chris Sale's return from suspension

White Sox find normalcy in Chris Sale's return from suspension

The word of the day Thursday around the cramped confines of the visitor’s clubhouse at Wrigley Field was normal, as in getting things back to it with ace left-hander Chris Sale taking the mound after serving a five-game suspension for “insubordination and destruction of team property.”

A completely abnormal story — Sale cut up the 1976 throwback uniforms he didn’t want to wear last Saturday and was sent home for his actions — gave way to a relatively routine evening. Sale allowed two runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts over six innings, though the White Sox lineup was shut down by John Lackey and the Cubs’ new three-headed bullpen monster in a 3-1 Crosstown loss.

“Things were pretty normal,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Guys got here, not a different clubhouse or anything like that. I think everything went fairly normal as far as him going out there and pitching and it was about baseball.”

First baseman Jose Abreu said things felt like an ordinary Sale start, even though the American League’s All-Star starting pitcher hadn’t pitched since July 18. He didn’t have his best stuff and wasn’t his sharpest, either — those three walks were his highest total in over two months — as he wasn’t able to consistently paint the corners with his explosive arsenal of pitches.

But, as usual, Sale worked quickly and kept his team in the game against one of baseball’s best offenses.

“He pitched a very good game,” Abreu said through a translator.

The Cuban first baseman added: “I think that we already moved on.”

Catcher Dioner Navarro agreed.

“He gave us a great outing, we just weren’t able to score any runs for him,” Navarro said.

Before the game, third baseman Todd Frazier said he and his teammates rallied around Sale and hoped a solid outing from the 27-year-old left-hander would put the bizarre incident squarely in the rearview mirror. 

“Some mistakes are bigger than others but you gotta understand that we’re all not perfect,” Frazier said. “Things do happen in this game, different things that you think (you’ve) never seen before, and then it happens. It’s just one of those things, hopefully it goes away quick with the way he pitches."

Sale said he didn’t discuss the incident or his suspension with his teammates before the game to keep things as normal as possible. After he showed up a little after 4:40 p.m., he received hugs and handshakes from teammates welcoming him back following his five-day exile.

But after that, Navarro said things were business as usual. He and Sale went through the gameplan and got ready to face the Cubs' powerful lineup instead of dwelling on what happened last Saturday. Eventually, Sale will talk to his coaches and teammates on a personal level to “let them know where my head is at, where my heart is at, and let them know how much I appreciate them.”

With the White Sox playoff hopes flickering as the trade deadline approaches, though, Sale’s teammates are eager to keep the focus on trying to dig themselves out of a substantial, two-games-under-.500 hole.

“Everything’s in the past,” Navarro said. “He did a great job. Quality start, nothing else you can ask.”