KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Javy Guerra has been working to get back on the same track he was on in his first two seasons.
The reliever, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Charlotte, feels like he has begun to achieve that in his first two months with the White Sox. A waiver claim right before the end of spring training, the former Los Angeles Dodger brings a sinkerball with him as he takes Matt Lindstrom’s spot in the bullpen.
Guerra, who last had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in November 2012, had a 2.33 ERA in 19 1/3 innings at Charlotte. A one-time closer for the Dodgers, Guerra said he’s excited for a new opportunity with the White Sox.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Guerra said. “It all kind of came so quick and more than anything I knew I had to go pitch somewhere and for the most part I went down there, handled my business, got better. The pitching coach (Rich Dotson) really helped me a lot with my stuff. Things have been a little sharper.”
Guerra was pretty sharp early in his tenure with Los Angeles, enough to where they made him their closer to start 2012. Even with some late struggles that season, Guerra had a 2.45 ERA in 91 2/3 innings over his first two seasons. He struggled after returning from surgery in 2013 and was in the minors by June, finishing with a 3.40 ERA over 28 games.
The White Sox were quick to grab Guerra when he was waived at the end of spring training but they wanted to start him in the minors. General manager Rick Hahn gambled that Guerra could pass back through waivers again, which would make him available to be outrighted to Charlotte to work on his game.
“Just little things, little mechanical issues,” Guerra said of what he worked on. “Things they thought they could help with, and more than anything they have come along way and I’m really buying into it.”
With Lindstrom on the disabled list, the White Sox would love for Guerra to regain his old form and become another trusted arm. Guerra has recorded 71 saves in his professional career, including 29 with the Dodgers.
But the White Sox aren’t about to throw him into the mix as a closer. Though Guerra had three saves at Charlotte and finished 10 games, he said he wouldn’t read anything into his role there.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura also said Guerra taking over immediately isn’t likely. But he likes Guerra’s track record.
“He’s more of a sinkerball guy, the similar stuff we’ve had with all of these guys and throws strikes,” Ventura said. “He’s been reliable in the past, and that’s part of bringing a guy in here that’s had some experience, and we’re going to count on that.”