Thigpen thinks White Sox bullpen can be best in baseball

988733.png

Thigpen thinks White Sox bullpen can be best in baseball

Bobby Thigpen has his sights set high for the White Sox bullpen this season.

Thigpen, the teams new bullpen coach, said Thursday he believes the South Siders relief corps has a chance to rank at the top of the league.

With a mix of talented young pitchers and veterans, Thigpen doesnt see why the unit cant improve upon last season. The White Sox return Addison Reed, Nate Jones, Donnie Veal, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and, depending on his role, Hector Santiago. The team also agreed to sign veteran Matt Lindstrom last weekend with an announcement expected this weekend at Sox Fest.

How good can the group be? Best in baseball, I think, Thigpen said. We got some young guys. Weve got a couple older guys that I think helped them a lot last year, having Matt and Jesse there. Were going to look for them to give them that role and then hopefully I can do my part and help the young guys come along like they should.

Theres plenty to like with Jones, Veal and Reed.

Jones improved as the season progressed, accruing a 1.64 ERA and five wins over his final 32 appearances. Veal became a nightmare for opposing left-handed hitters, who went 3-for-32 against him with 14 strikeouts. And even though Reed struggled in non-save situations, he never relinquished his closer job and set a team rookie-record with 29 saves in the process.

Its a confidence builder, Thigpen said. They got to make the adjustments to stay here. And thats what theyll be looking at this year, to add to what they did last year, along with their stuff, maybe change a few things in order to. Everyone has scouting reports and now theyve seen them for a full year and now they have an idea of what they got. Now its up to them to make an adjustment to give them a different look and keep improving and have another good year.

Reed showed off some of the confidence gained on Thursday in between calls to season-ticket holders. With a season of experience, the right-hander, who converted 29 of 33 save attempts, said he can focus on his job rather than just making the 25-man roster.

40 or 45 saves, Reed said. Thats my goal this year. I mean, last year it was making the team. I still feel like I have to fight for that closers spot. By no means do I think I have that position on lock. Ill try to get that spot out of spring training and after that just try to get as many saves as possible.

A.J. Pierzynski retires, joins FOX as full-time analyst

A.J. Pierzynski retires, joins FOX as full-time analyst

Former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski officially retired from MLB on Tuesday.

Pierzynski will join FOX as a full-time analyst, according to a press release from FOX Sports.

"We love having A.J. on the FOX Sports team," Fox Sports President John Entz said. "He’s confident in his opinions and insight and he doesn’t hold back or shy away from topics he feels strongly about. Fans want an honest approach to what’s happening on the field, in the locker room and away from the game, and A.J. gives you just that, and has a lot of fun doing it."

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Pierzynski will serve as both a color commentator and studio analyst for FOX, while also making regular appearances on FS1's MLB Whiparound. Pierzynski previously worked with FOX during the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015 MLB postseasons.

"With Opening Day right around the corner, this is always a great time of year," Pierzynski said in a statement from FOX Sports. "I’m really looking forward to what should be a very exciting MLB season and to being a part of the FOX Sports team again."

Pierzynski spent 19 years in MLB with the Minnesota Twins (1998-03), San Francisco Giants (2004), White Sox (2005-12), Texas Rangers (2013), Boston Red Sox (2014), St. Louis Cardinals (2014) and Atlanta Braves (2015-16). Pierzynski won a World Series ring with the White Sox in 2005. The 40-year-old Pierzynski had a career major-league slash line of .280/.319/.420 with 188 home runs and 909 RBI.

Pierzynski joins former MLB players Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher, who both recently signed deals with FOX.

Carlos Rodon headed to the disabled list, will start throwing program

Carlos Rodon headed to the disabled list, will start throwing program

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Carlos Rodon will begin a two-week throwing program after a second opinion revealed no structural damage.

The White Sox pitcher is back in camp on Tuesday morning after he traveled to Los Angeles for a follow up appointment on Monday. That visit yet again cleared Rodon of any major injury, though he has been diagnosed as having bursitis (inflammation) in his left bicep tendon. Rodon is expected to start the season on the 15-day disabled list.

"I had a good day (Monday), figured some stuff out and are going with the plan we've got now," Rodon said. "(The program is) based on how I feel, how I push it. I'll try to take it slow, and if everything feels good, I want to be back with these guys as soon as I can."

Rodon was scratched from Friday's start and has undergone a slew of tests since.

General manager Rick Hahn said last week that odds were Rodon would start the season on the disabled list. Manager Rick Renteria hinted the same on Monday when he said the White Sox would be cautious with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2014 draft even if the second opinion revealed no significant damage.

Rodon wasn't certain but thinks he may stay behind in Arizona for extended spring training. 

"It's almost like you have to re-start the process a little bit," Renteria said. "It would be foolish to try to anticipate or push him into any direction without first of all ultimately having whatever the diagnosis is or the validation or whatever it might be of the second opinion. Once we get that, we'll know hopefully tomorrow how we can ultimately proceed. I wouldn't think we’d try to ramp him up quickly."