SEATTLE — Anthony Swarzak likes the role he has worked himself into in the White Sox bullpen.
He’s not at all concerned with his workload.
And the veteran reliever said Thursday afternoon that he’s ready to rebound after surrendering his first runs of the season a night earlier. Swarzak isn’t worried about that either, seeing as the home run was yielded to one Michael Nelson Trout. Swarzak enters Thursday’s series opener against the Seattle Mariners with a 1.37 ERA and 22 strikeouts and only two walks. Prior to Wednesday’s loss, Swarzak had made 15 straight scoreless appearances.
“It was just one game,” Swarzak said. “It was three hitters and it all kind of snowballed on you and that’s kind of what I’ve been avoiding this whole year. I didn’t dodge it (Wednesday) and had the wrong guy up at the wrong time and he’s on fire right now. I was up for the challenge, that’s for sure. I was ready to get in there and face him because I wanted that and he got me. So maybe be careful what you wish for.”
Manager Rick Renteria has said over the past few days he’s aware of the heavy workload heaped upon Swarzak so far. With Nate Jones and Zach Putnam down, Swarzak and Tommy Kahnle have picked up a large amount of high leverage work because the White Sox have been competitive despite a losing mark.
Swarzak’s 19 2/3 innings leads all White Sox relievers.
“It’s a long season,” Renteria said. “You have to make sure you allow the other guys who have done well also to slot into situations he might take to give him a break. It’s the wise thing to do. “There’s a lot of season left.”
Even so, Swarzak is only on pace for 84 innings, a total he has already surpassed each season from 2011-14. Beyond that, Swarzak has only pitched one-plus innings three times since he unofficially moved up the bullpen food chain on April 29. So while his manager may keep an eye on him, Swarzak likes how often his number has been called. This is a role he has always desired and he’d like to keep going.
“I’ve thrown close to 100 innings out of the bullpen multiple years in my career,” Swarzak said. “I’m ready for this. I feel great.”
“I’ve put myself in a position to help the team when it matters and that’s something I’ve wanted to do my whole career, pitch out of the bullpen in bigger situations. Unfortunately, we lost some key players in the bullpen early on in the year and that’s where my opportunity came about and I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
[VIVID SEATS: Get your White Sox tickets here]
Swarzak may be one of the White Sox players most tuned into the Seattle Mariners’ Thursday remembrance of Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell, who was found dead in his Detroit hotel room earlier in the morning of an apparent suicide.
The right-hander’s walkup music at home games is Audioslave’s ‘Cochise,’ a band for whom Cornell also performed lead vocals. Swarzak, 34, grew up during the era of grunge rock and has some personal connections to the scene.
The Mariners plan to remember Cornell, 52, with a moment of silence before the game. They also plan to play a heavy rotation of Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog songs throughout the contest.
“I love the whole grunge style of music and the whole Seattle scene here,” Swarzak said. “Their music is just timeless, it seems to go on for decades now and I don’t ever see that stopping. You’ve got Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, the whole thing. Definitely took a hit with Cornell and it’s pretty sad. It’s a pretty sad day for the music industry and for Seattle and hopefully we can just remember the good voice he had because it was something special.”