ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When he walked out of the Angels Stadium bullpen on Thursday night, Addison Reed experienced a pretty cool and unique feeling.
The White Sox reliever said he allowed his mind to briefly venture back to his youth when he would sit in the bleachers at Angels games. He has vivid memories of what it was like when his hero Troy Percival entered to pitch.
Then Reed, a native of nearby Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., realized he was doing the very same thing as he headed for the mound.
“I’m not going to lie,” Reed said. “That thought crossed my mind when I was coming out of the bullpen and onto the field. I kind of had a flashback to when I was in the stands, watching him run in and thought it was a cool feeling I got to pitch tonight.”
If any extra emotion was attached to the scenario, Reed, an Angels “diehard” until he was drafted by the White Sox, never showed it, bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen said. Thigpen noticed Reed looking around the stands earlier in the game looking for old high school teammates and friends and family. But Thigpen said Reed never acted out of character.
Most of Reed’s friends paid their own way in to the park, he said. The right-hander purchased plenty of tickets last season when the White Sox played two series in Anaheim. Reed only had one opportunity to face the Angels here last season though, throwing an inning in mop-up duty of a blowout loss.
On Thursday, Reed purchased only six tickets for his family.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura is impressed with how Reed handled himself, as he retired the side in order to convert his 13th save in 14 tries. Ventura, who hails from Santa Maria, Calif., remembers how difficult “home” trips were.
“There’s a lot of people,” Ventura said. “It’s fun and everything, but it’s tiring too, before or after a game. It’s nice to come back and play in front of friends. They want to hang out, get here early and see you, which is great. But you are still working. Sometimes you’ve got to be a little, I wouldn’t say rude, but be a little shorter than you normally would if you were just hanging out.”
Sale faces Angels again
Chris Sale has the flexibility to widely vary his game plan against the Angels on Friday if he so chooses.
The White Sox left-hander threw a combined 81 fastballs and changeups in his complete-game one-hitter against the Angels in Chicago on Sunday. He only threw his trusted slider -- a pitch he has thrown 29 percent of the time for his career -- 17 times among 98 pitches. For obvious reasons, Sale isn’t about to divulge how he plans to attack Angels hitters but he also doesn’t want to stray too far from what nearly netted him a perfect game.
“I want to take the positives and what worked, but a lineup like this with the hitters they have, you have to change it up,” Sale said. “I can’t go out there throwing the same things in the same counts and expect the same results. These guys are professional hitters and a great team. They’re going to make adjustments. Just plan accordingly and go from there.”
Flowers on target
Catcher Tyler Flowers has improved his rate of throwing out would-be base stealers over the last 10 days. Flowers has nabbed four of the last seven guys who have tried to steal a base against him after 17 of the first 18 were successful. Ventura believes that’s a product of White Sox pitchers doing a better job of holding runners on.
Whereas before he had little chance to cut down a runner, now Flowers has an honest shot, Ventura said.
“You just have to give them a shot,” Ventura said. “They’ve been catching and releasing pretty good since we’ve been doing a good job of holding guys. Before there were guys taking off and getting big jumps and I don’t care how good of an arm you have, you weren’t going to throw them out.”