Sox Drawer: J.J. Putz it in perspective

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Sox Drawer: J.J. Putz it in perspective

Monday, May 17, 2010
4:28 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Six weeks into the baseball season, the word being heard most around Minneapolis and its seemingly unstoppable Twins is believe.

In Detroit, where they lost Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, and Edwin Jackson in the off-season, but have quickly found new life thanks to young phenoms like Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch, theres new-found hope.

But here in Chicago, where since Opening Day the White Sox have remained stuck in a tedious square dance (one step forward, two steps back), the word being uttered over and over again is that of frustration.

I think everybody is frustrated, said Sox reliever J.J. Putz, speaking by phone Monday from Comerica Park where the Sox have a quick two-game series with those hopeful Tigers, who just took 5 of 7 from the Yankees and Red Sox.

Putz signed a 1-year, 3 million dollar contract with the White Sox this past winter, thinking hed be a bullpen bridge to many victories in 2010. But so far, theyve been few and far between.
Whats the answer? J.J. wish he knew.

It just seems like we cant find a rhythm to get any kind of ball rolling. Its extremely frustrating but at the same time I dont think anyone has lost confidence in one another, so thats a positive. If we just win three or four in a row and just kind of get a little momentum going I think well be fine, but thats easier said than done.

Weve noticed.

The Sox have won back-to-back games just twice this season, and not since April 25th when they swept the Mariners in three games.

Since then, theyve gone 7-11, which sounds good if youre thirsty for a drink and looking for a convenience store, but not if youre Kenny Williams, a man who has become parched watching potential victories routinely dry up.

The biggest culprit has been the offense, which remains last in the American League in hitting (.238), and has gone four games with just one extra-base hit (a solo home run Sunday by Alex Rios).

Sunday, Gavin Floyd continued his season-long struggles, giving up five runs on 10 hits to the last-place Royals, who are now 7-and-1 against Floyd in his career.

Are guys too tight?

Putz joked that his hamstrings are, but acknowledged that the players know the clock is ticking.

I think people are a little more anxious to get going in the right direction. In the beginning we said, Its still early, its still early. But now were getting towards June here, so I think theres a little more sense of urgency to get things going in the right direction.

Does he see a winning streak coming?

It seems like its bound to. I dont think it can keep going like this for too much longer.

If it does, thats where Trader Kenny comes in. Putz, an experienced set-up man and closer could be a target for a playoff contender, which is what the White Sox are supposed to be. Who knows? They still might.

Life can throw you curve balls. Just ask J.J.

The Detroit-area native is back in his hometown, his team desperate for wins against the team he grew up idolizing.

His favorite player was former Tigers great Lance Parrish.

I grew up a catcher, and always had the Lance Parrish Tiger orange (leather) on the inside of my glove, Putz remembers.

He also recalls being 7-years-old, watching the Tigers win their last World Series at his grandparents house in 1984.

My parents were actually at the clinching game.

Were you jealous?

I am now. Back then, I didnt really understand. I think I was just happy the game was over so I could go to bed.

26 years later, Putz finds himself back in Detroit, with 23 tickets reserved for friends and family, pitching for a White Sox team that needs to wake upand fast.

Weve definitely lost our fair share of games, one-run games, two-run games where we just havent done that one little thing in that game. Hopefully good days are ahead.

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.

Tyler Saladino, Jose Abreu homer as White Sox tie Padres in Arizona finale

Tyler Saladino, Jose Abreu homer as White Sox tie Padres in Arizona finale

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tyler Saladino hit leadoff on Wednesday, finishing with a home run and a single.

Saladino's first-inning drive was one of eight combined homers hit between the White Sox and San Diego Padres, who finished in a 9-all tie at Camelback Ranch. Before the game, White Sox manager Rick Renteria said that Saladino, who finished 2-for-2, would see most of his playing time at second base.

"He's been developing and continuing to grow every single season," Renteria said. "The flexibility that he brings allows him to be in the lineup over an extended period of time. But we want to make sure we take care of him as we want to do with everybody else, kind of keep them all fresh as much as we can.

"He's developed into a pretty good major league baseball player."

Jose Abreu, Nick Delmonico and Jake Peter all homered for the White Sox. Delmonico led the White Sox with five homers this spring. Abreu went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs.

[Buy White Sox tickets right here]

Rule 5 pitcher Dylan Covey, who appears primed to make the Opening Day roster, allowed two earned runs in his lone inning pitched. Covey then headed to the bullpen and threw additional pitches there as the White Sox continue to build up his arm strength.

Veteran Anthony Swarzak allowed a run and struck out two in two innings. Reliever Dan Jennings allowed five runs (four earned) and four hits in 1/3 innings.

First-rounder Zack Collins drew a pair of walks in his only plate appearances and scored a run.

The White Sox ended the spring with a 16-15-2 record.

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Zack Burdi headed for the minors, the White Sox 12-man pitching staff is all but set.

The Opening Day roster won't be finalized until Sunday and the White Sox hypothetically could find an attractive candidate to claim off the waiver wire over the weekend. But barring that, it looks as if veteran Anthony Swarzak and second-year reliever Michael Ynoa have made the team after Burdi said Wednesday morning that he'd start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. 

The No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com, Burdi finished the spring with a 6.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Burdi finished his Cactus League on a high note with three strikeouts over an inning on Tuesday, including one of Kansas City four-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. 

"Man, it's been crazy," Burdi said. "Coming in and being the young guy in the locker room and then just progressing and showing a little bit more (comfort) around the guys and the veterans and then just being able to pick their brains and go out every day and try to progress. You get to the innings and you are facing guys you've watched your last 10 years of your life. It has been crazy and definitely something I won't forget."

Burdi lasted the longest this spring out of the cache of highly-touted prospects the White Sox brought to big league camp. Prior to escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam Tuesday, Burdi looked like he would allow a run in a third straight game after a hot start to camp (he only allowed a run in one of his first 10 appearances). But Burdi battled back and struck out Perez on three pitches, one of two straight strikeouts to strand both runners.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has been impressed by Burdi throughout the spring. But he also wants to see the Louisville product continue to work on command in the minors.

"You can't not see his stuff," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited when you see 99, 100, 101. But whether you throw it 101 or 83 like [Mark] Buehrle you have to throw it to the glove with command, change speeds and all that stuff. But he's a big part of our future going forward. He's one of the names."

Burdi said he plans to operate like he has already spring and not pay attention to any of the hype. Though he'd like to play in the majors, Burdi is excited to play alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer in Charlotte.

"Once you get a feel for all this stuff and you feel how cool it is to be in the locker room with all these guys and play with them, of course you want to get back up here," Burdi said. "But at the same time, a lot of my really good friends are on Charlotte and I couldn't be more excited to go down there and play with them and make the most of the season down there."