Rienzo won't back down despite control issues

Rienzo won't back down despite control issues
August 10, 2013, 8:45 pm
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Paul LaTour

If nothing else, rookie right-hander Andre Rienzo isn’t going to make excuses or try to gloss over the control issues he’s had since joining the White Sox rotation.

In three starts, Rienzo has walked 11 batters in 18 2/3 innings. That includes five in Chicago’s 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

“Bad. It’s bad. Seriously. It’s really bad,” Rienzo said.

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But to his credit, Rienzo didn’t back down. Although he posted another no-decision (his third consecutive since making his major-league debut July 30), he kept the Twins scoreless in all but the disastrous third when they scored all their runs.

“I don't know if it's a worry,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Rienzo’s walks. “For a guy being up here for the first time, you wish it wasn't there. But that's part of learning how to pitch up here. Hitters are better, they can work you around a little bit, and if you leave one over the plate they'll make you pay for it.”

The Twins made him pay twice in the third. First it was Justin Morneau hitting a 408-foot, three-run home run to tie the game 3-3. On out later it was Oswaldo Arcia hitting a 406-foot shot to give the Twins the lead.

Those were the first two home runs surrendered by Rienzo, who admitted to having better control while pitching at Triple-A Charlotte. He said he’s having trouble getting his fastball over for strikes.

“I hope I can get back to those good, good times,” he said. “I’ll just keep working, man. Bad games make you work harder for the next time and that game there will for sure make me work harder for the next one.”

The Twins had at least one runner on base in every inning except the ninth. Because of his control problems, Rienzo pitched into and out of jams throughout his 5 2/3-inning, 112-pitch outing.

“You've got to let these guys find a way,” Ventura said. “He got up pitch-count wise, he might have been a little tired more than anything, so you take him out there. These (young) guys have to learn to work through some things.”

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Rienzo is already becoming known for liking to work quickly. The Twins tried to throw him off by often stepping out of the batter’s box. But Rienzo said that didn’t bother him.

“I know some guys talk about me being quick,” he said. “I like to be quick. But it doesn’t affect me. I have my time and the batter has his time so it doesn’t affect me.”

Second baseman Gordon Beckham said the defense appreciates Rienzo’s quick pace.

“I like playing behind him because he works fast and for the most part he pounds the zone with strikes,” Beckham said. “That’s good. That’s fun to play behind. It keeps the defense on their toes.”

Still looking for his first major-league victory, Rienzo was nonetheless ebullient in the clubhouse after the game. In part it was because the White Sox had won, which he said was most important.

But he was also excited because he had an unexpected visit after the game. His brother surprised him by showing up from their home country, Brazil.

“I didn’t know he was here,” Rienzo said. “The security just came out and said I had some guy who wanted to talk to me from Brazil. I said ‘OK.’ And in the time I go, it was my brother and I said ‘Hey!’ It’s crazy.”