- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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Doug Padilla previews the White Sox by position in the days leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training on Feb. 12.
Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton, the bullpen veterans, will split $10 million between them with there still a little left over to bring in a hard-throwing newcomer in Matt Lindstrom, who will pocket $2.3 million this season. The rest of the relief help falls into the "affordable" category.
The back end of the bullpen appears to be solid, but the White Sox still can't ignore other areas. Finding a quality long man (or two) will be vital, especially with starter John Danks returning from injury and any efforts the club might undertake to maintain Chris Sale's innings.
So far, the only thing the White Sox are saying in regard to Sale is that he will get a later start than others in spring training and no mention has been made on a targeted inning count for 2013. Sale threw 192 innings in 2012.
Addison Reed, RHP: The young talent was far from the only one who dealt with a late-season swoon. It's easy to see that Reed trailed off last season with an 8.00 ERA in September and an opponents' batting average of .351 in the month. Reed's most ardent supporters, though, will point a handful of outings, especially the six runs he allowed May 13, as the reason for his untidy 4.75 ERA. The bottom line is that consistency will be Reed's aim this season and his first full season of experience should help him get there. He plans on using a new cardio program to help with stamina throughout the summer.
Matt Thornton, LHP: Once again, there will be a lot expected from one of the veteran anchors of the White Sox's bullpen. It's perhaps a tall order considering that Thornton's 10 losses were easily the most of all left-handers last year and were tied for the most among all relievers in baseball. Add to that four blown saves as the carnage mounted. Through it all, Thornton did manage seven saves and an ERA under 3.50. His veteran presence will be leaned on heavily.
Jesse Crain, RHP: A strained left oblique and a strained right shoulder disrupted a 2012 season but the year still wasn't a lost cause. Crain managed to make 51 appearances (48 innings) while posting a 2.44 ERA to go along with four saves and two victories. His 1.08 WHIP was his best since posting a 1.07 mark in his rookie season of 2004 with the Minnesota Twins. He is expected to pitch for Canada in the WBC.
Nate Jones, RHP: In the epitome of a surprise breakout season, Jones managed to skip the Triple-A level entirely by earning a roster spot with a solid 2012 spring training. His 2.39 ERA and 8-0 rookie marks signal that the sky's the limit for the hard thrower from Kentucky. At SoxFest manager Robin Ventura told the crowd that Jones would be able to challenge Reed for the closer spot. Ventura's wink afterward suggested Reed will keep his job, but there is still no mistaking the White Sox like what they have in Jones.
Matt Lindstrom, RHP: If Reed and Jones represent the hard-throwing youngsters, Lindstrom is the older equivalent. He will turn 33 on Monday but still relies on the velocity of his youth. Despite pitching in both leagues last season (with Arizona and Baltimore), he still posted a 2.68 ERA over 48 outings. Finally getting a chance to pick his own club via free agency, Lindstrom says he delayed the process this winter in order to hear from the White Sox. He's right where he wants to be now.
Hector Santiago, LHP: If Danks isn't ready to start the season on time, Santiago could end up getting some early starts. Either way, he should be a key member of the bullpen as a long man, and his ability to rack up innings would help ease the early innings count on the recovering Danks. If Gavin Floyd can't work his way back toward 200 innings, Santiago could be in for a long, grueling season.
Dylan Axelrod, RHP: Also in the competition for any early Danks starts, Axelrod could also help in the long man department. It isn't likely the White Sox carry two long men, but if either Axelrod or Santiago is starting at any point then a bullpen spot would be available for the other.
Donnie Veal, LHP: With Santiago and Thornton in the bullpen, the White Sox have coverage from the left side. But Veal could end up being a lefty specialist like the White Sox tried to do with Will Ohman in recent years.
Other bullpen options include Deunte Heath, Brian Omogrosso and Leyson Septimo, who all saw some action with the White Sox last season. Non-roster invitees to camp with major-league experience include Jeff Gray, who pitched 52 innings for the Twins last season, and Ramon Troncoso, who was a key member of the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen that made back-to-back NLCS appearances in 2008 and 2009.