TORONTO — Just because he handled it well before doesn’t mean Zach Putnam would pitch the ninth inning on Sunday if the White Sox have a lead.
Manager Robin Ventura said Sunday he plans to handle the final three outs on a case-by-case basis and doesn’t intend to anoint one player the closer. Even though Putnam has been a find this season, and recorded a save Saturday, doesn’t give him any advantage over Javy Guerra, Jacob Petricka, Eric Surkamp or Daniel Webb, Ventura said.
A minor-league free agent signee, Putnam is 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 31 1/3 innings this season.
“He’s going to pitch, I don’t know if it’s going to be in the ninth,” Ventura said. “But yeah I’m going to run him out. It’s going to be depending on the matchup/usage, all that stuff. Just because he closed out yesterday doesn’t mean he gets today.”
Even Saturday, Ventura wasn’t sure he’d use Putnam in the ninth inning. He entered the game in the eighth inning after Surkamp retired pinch hitter Adam Lind on three pitches.
Ventura said he chose to stick with Putnam, who recorded the first save of his career, because he likes how Putnam handles left-handed hitters. He also heard confidence and an ability to control the situation from Putnam when the two chatted with two outs in the ninth inning and Edwin Encarnacion on deck. Putnam followed with three straight balls to Encarnacion but battled back and got him to ground out on a 3-1 pitch to end the game.
But because he has no surefire answer to close, Ventura intends to keep an open mind and look for the best matchups.
“It’s not yet to the point where we’re going to have one guy and you’re going to be the guy,” Ventura said. “If there comes a time in the ninth inning where we feel another matchup is better, we’re going to go to that guy.
Ventura decided to make a change in the ninth inning after Ronald Belisario had another close call Friday that required a bailout by Surkamp and Jacob Petricka. Belisario, who blew a save Monday, has converted 8-of-12 tries this season. Belisario will continue to pitch in key spots for the White Sox but not the ninth inning, Ventura said.