White Sox make change in rotation but stick by closer Belisario

White Sox make change in rotation but stick by closer Belisario
June 24, 2014, 6:00 pm
Share This Post

BALTIMORE -- The White Sox announced a change on Tuesday but it’s not the one some disgruntled fans might have hoped for.

Manager Robin Ventura announced plans to have long reliever Scott Carroll replace Andre Rienzo in the starting rotation with Rienzo moving into the bullpen.

Ventura also said he intends to stick with closer Ronald Belisario one day after he blew his third save opportunity since he moved into the role last month.

Belisario has converted seven of 11 save tries overall and is 3-4 with a 5.50 ERA in 32 appearances this season. The right-hander gave up a three-run home run to Chris Davis in the ninth inning of a 6-4 loss to Baltimore on Monday night. 

“Right now, you stick with him,” Ventura said. “If you end up switching, something happens, you can rotate it around. You have the ability to change it any time you want. But right now, if we’re winning tonight, he’s going back out there tonight. That’s just the way it is.”

[MORE: Ventura said White Sox need to put 'big-boy pants' on]

Ventura said one reason he wants to keep Belisario in the role is to give him every chance to see if he’s capable. The White Sox have been without their original closer since Matt Lindstrom suffered an ankle injury last month.

While Belisario has a 9.00 ERA in 12 games since he moved into the ninth, Ventura likes that he throws strikes. Previously a setup man throughout his career, Belisario has 28 strikeouts and only eight walks allowed in 36 innings this season.

“For any guy who goes into that role, it becomes different,” Ventura said. “Whether somebody else can do it right now, I don’t know, but I’m going to find out if he can do it.

“We haven’t been playing well enough to put him in enough. When we were on our road trip in (Los Angeles) he had a nice little run of doing it. But we haven’t played well enough for him to get consistent work coming in to do it. As of right now, he’s staying in there to do it.

“Lindstrom was our closer. Now you’re getting to the point where you experiment putting the guy in there, and right now he’s staying in there to do it.”

General manager Rick Hahn said not having stability in the ninth inning can be “a little unnerving.” Hahn said Tuesday nobody has a stranglehold on the role, which allows Ventura and his coaches to be flexible in who they use to pitch in key situations. He also said a future change is a possibility, noting that Javy Guerra has the most experience and that Zach Putnam has been the team’s most consistent reliever this season.

“It’s just an option,” Hahn said. “They’re free to do what they feel is appropriate. And since no one has locked down, in part because of health and in part because guys having to move around because of injury, I don’t think anyone is necessarily set in any given spot. Now if it evolves into that or if they continue down the path we’ve been down for the last couple of weeks and it starts working, fantastic. That’s great. But at the same time they’re free to do whatever they want to do based on matchups.”

Rienzo hasn’t been able to avoid the big inning in his last five starts -- all losses -- and that’s partly why the White Sox elected to switch back to Carroll, who has a 1.83 ERA in six games since he moved to the bullpen. Carroll has also worked on developing a cut-fastball while pitching in relief and has confidence in the pitch, which Ventura thinks will compliment his sinker.

“Scotty’s been throwing great, and it at this point, it’s probably better for Rienzo to take a break and be in the bullpen and figure it out,” Ventura said.