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Monday, December 16, 2013
Jones, Lindstrom in line to close

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox sound confident that internal candidates can fill their now-vacant closer’s role.

According to general manager Rick Hahn, Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom will be considered for the ninth-inning bullpen role which became available when Addison Reed was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday. Even right-hander Daniel Webb will get some consideration for the spot, with Hahn adding that the White Sox are in no rush to make a decision in mid-December.

“Frankly, our scouts and player development people have done a real nice job providing us with options and I have confidence that will continue,” Hahn said Monday. “Just like we entered the 2012 season without anyone specifically anointed the closer ... we were able to be in first place for a large stretch of that season despite entering spring training without having anyone written in stone in that role. I just don’t feel it’s that essential to do, especially in mid-December.”

Hector Santiago, who was traded to the Los Angeles Angels last week, originally won the closer’s spot in 2012, but Reed eventually took it over and held it until the end of this past season. He saved 69 games over 139 appearances in the past three seasons, earning 40 saves in 2013.

More bullpen help is expected to come once a deal for hard-throwing right-hander Ronald Belisario is finalized. That deal is awaiting a physical exam. Belisario, who turns 31 on Dec. 31, isn’t expected to compete for the closer’s role, but would provide late-inning relief. Multiple reports say that deal is for one year at $3 million.

By trading Reed for third baseman Matt Davidson, the White Sox have now dealt a young up-and-coming closer in two of the past three offseasons. They sent Sergio Santos to the Toronto Blue Jays in December of 2011.

Most early reviews on Monday’s trade commend the team’s decision to deal a potential 70-inning pitcher in Reed for what could end up being an everyday starter in Davidson who will bat in the middle of the lineup. But it also raised a question. Hahn was asked about how little the team seems to value the closer role.

“I don’t think that is a fair characterization,” Hahn said. “I think it’s more about having confidence in our scouts and coaches’ ability to develop somebody capable of filling that role. Going back to 2005, we had three different guys between Shingo (Takatsu), (Dustin) Hermanson and ultimately Bobby Jenks. It’s an important job and it’s not an easy job, but it’s one where we have a decent track record of finding the right guy when the time arises.

“We just felt at this time, given where we’ve been from a position-player side of things, we had to take to opportunity to get what we feel is another potential long-term core position player piece.”