There are some issues in the White Sox bullpen, but pitching coach Don Cooper chooses to be optimistic about his relievers.
There’s no hiding that some of the veteran members of the White Sox relief corps has struggled to date, namely Ronald Belisario, Matt Lindstrom, Scott Downs and Donnie Veal. That group enters Wednesday’s game with a 9.82 ERA in 18 1/3 combined innings this season. But much of that group also has long histories of success and Cooper is focused on getting them back on track and thinks about what his bullpen would be like if that were the case.
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Even though Nate Jones continues to be out with a sore lower back and manager Robin Ventura said there’s no timetable for his return, Cooper can see potential in the ‘pen considering how rookies Jacob Petricka, Maikel Cleto and Daniel Webb have pitched.
“Belisario, Downs and Lindy, they’re the experienced guys, they’re the anchors, and they’re not going quite as well as we know they can,” Cooper said. “But I kind of look at it as ‘Boy, if we can get these guys going and doing what they can …’ I’m looking at the glass as more half-filled. Everybody else in town looks at it like it’s half-empty.”
Tuesday night’s game provided encouragement for the White Sox.
Downs pitched a scoreless inning and Veal recorded an out. Those two combined with Petricka and Webb for 2 1/3 scoreless innings as the White Sox bullpen put forth only its fourth scoreless outing in 14 games this season. Ventura isn’t surprised by some of the outcry surrounding the bullpen’s performance but has to take into consideration the limited amount of innings pitched at this point in the season.
“It’s something that you have to have a little bit of patience with it,” Ventura said. “How far is that? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. But tonight hopefully that’s a step in the right direction. These guys can get that confidence and run it out for a while.”
Confidence can make all the difference, even for relievers with long track records, Cooper said. It’s clearly why Cooper is tackling the problem with the belief his pitchers will rebound instead of the opposite.
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“Confidence is huge for anybody,” Cooper said. “I’m looking to fix the problem. I’m looking to help the problem and serve and see if we can get everybody in a better place. It can get difficult because I’ve got the bar set pretty high. I’m convinced we’re going to get everybody where they need to be.”