CHICAGO -- Not only are the Chicago White Sox starting a homestand after a rough three-city road trip, they are also welcoming back pitching coach Don Cooper, who missed the past 10 games because of a bout with diverticulitis.
The digestive disorder caused Cooper to be hospitalized while the team was in Washington, D.C., to start the trip, and he didn’t travel with the club to Cleveland or Toronto.
“What it amounted to for me was a bad, bad, bad stomach ache for five days,” Cooper said. “There are so many people that have it so much worse, every day waking up with pain. I’m not going to beef about it.”
Perhaps “beef” wasn’t the best word, although Cooper said he was told by doctors that his digestive issue is likely hereditary, while being brought on by age.
Bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen assumed Cooper’s duties during the road trip.
“It’s good to have him back, just for the stuff he does and the normal interaction for me during the game for the pitchers,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Bobby did a good job, but you kind of feel like everybody is back doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
While at home recovering, Cooper still kept a close eye on the club while watching the games in Cleveland and Toronto. He even got messages to players during the games.
“I was talking to Bobby daily, and I was texting guys during their outings,” Cooper said. “I was texting all the pitchers in their outings. Sometimes, it wasn’t going through with some of the problems with phones in Toronto. But I texted the catchers, the pitchers when they were doing well and when they didn’t, telling them what I was seeing.
“It’s a different perspective and different view than what I normally get right there. There were things you get to see and say to make sure we stay on top with this that and the other things with individual guys.”
Overall, the pitching staff wasn’t at its best while Cooper was away, posting a 4.20 ERA on the road trip while the White Sox were outscored 41-35. But there were some positives.
“Seeing [Jose] Quintana pitch the way he did the last two starts, seeing Jake Peavy in Cleveland, seeing Dylan [Axelrod] up there, Chris [Sale on Thursday] in Toronto, and our bullpen has been great,” Cooper said. “The catchers did a heck of a job.”
Cooper said he grew an even deeper appreciation for his job as pitching coach while being away. And he added that he is making changes to his diet in order to not have the same issue return.
“I guess as you get older you realize you are not bulletproof anymore,” he said. “But [stuff] comes your way, and you deal with it as best as you can and move on. Luckily, it was a small thing for me and so many other things are much, much more difficult to fight through.”