SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Maikel Cleto is in. Mitchell Boggs is out.
That was the take regarding the bullpen Sunday after the White Sox made a series of moves, including requesting unconditional waivers on Boggs for the purpose of giving him his outright release.
With Boggs gone and Dylan Axelrod and Jacob Petricka in minor-league camp, the White Sox only have nine relievers left in camp competing for seven spots in the bullpen.
The White Sox have all but announced that Cleto, who can touch 101 mph on the radar gun and is out of minor-league options, has made the team. With Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom, Ronald Belisario, Donnie Veal and Scott Downs all but assured jobs, that leaves Daniel Webb, David Purcey and Zach Putnam battling for the final spot in the bullpen.
Cleto pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings as the White Sox tied the Colorado Rockies 5-5 in nine innings.
“(Cleto) is not a guy we want to lose at this point,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He has made a lot of progress due to his hard work as well as some stuff that (the coaches) have done with him. He’s really taken to it quickly so that decision was a fairly easy one in terms of not wanting to lose him.”
The White Sox hope they can provide a cure for what has ailed the hard-throwing right-hander in the early part of his career. Cleto, who turns 25 on May 1, was claimed off waivers from Kansas City early in camp upon the recommendation of White Sox scout Paul Provas.
At Triple-A in 2013, Cleto allowed 84 hits and walked 74 in 91 1/3 innings for the Royals and St. Louis Cardinals. But pitching coach Don Cooper and bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen have tried to clean up Cleto’s delivery, and so far he has walked two batters in 8 2/3 innings. Cleto also struck out 13 and walked two in 9 2/3 innings in winter ball.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura likes the makeup of his potential bullpen.
“You want them to be something you want to use in a game,” Ventura said. “I think we have that.”
The White Sox would like to retain Boggs, who finished 2013 with an 8.10 ERA in 27 appearances, and start him at Triple-A Charlotte. Hahn and Ventura saw enough gains in Boggs’ work with Cooper. From 2010-12, Boggs had a 3.08 ERA in 201 1/3 innings for St. Louis.
“He just ran out of time of getting full strength back of him throwing,” Ventura said. “We don’t have the luxury of staying with it and seeing that all the way through without making this move. Would love to have him back if it pans out.”
Hahn said the move gives Boggs a chance to catch on with another club. But the door has also been left open for the right-hander’s return, albeit at Charlotte.
“We would be very happy to have him in Charlotte and continue on some of the progress we felt we made,” Hahn said. “He ran out of time and got beat out.”