Chicago White Sox: Donnie Veal

High walk totals signal issues aplenty

April, 26, 2014
4/26/14
7:26
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Getting Chicago White Sox pitchers to throw the ball over the plate won’t be as easy pointing them toward the catcher’s glove.

Manager Robin Ventura admitted there are multiple issues plaguing his hurlers, who have opened the season with an aversion to the strike zone.

The staff entered play Saturday with 114 walks; no other pitching staff in baseball had reached the 100 mark. Nobody is free from blame. The Chicago starters had issued 59 walks, which led all rotations in baseball, while the bullpen was far and away the most generous with free passes, handing out 55.

"There’s a combination of command issues and just maybe pitch selection in certain counts, guys trying to get guys to swing and miss instead of just letting them put it in play," Ventura said. "You know, last year, I would have understood because of the way we played defense, but this year we’ve been playing with a better defense, and I think you can pitch into the zone to have him hit it."

Closer Matt Lindstrom said more than a week ago it was time to let teams put the ball in play and give the defense a chance to do its part. He even planned to make it the topic of discussion the next time the relievers gathered in the bullpen.

He either never went ahead with his planned chat or nobody was listening. Right-handers Maikel Cleto and Jake Petricka each had eight walks, tied for fourth among all MLB relievers, while left-handers Scott Downs and the long-departed Donnie Veal were tied for 14th with seven.

On the starting side, Erik Johnson's 15 walks were tied for sixth in the American League, while fellow righty Felipe Paulino's 12 were tied for 15th -- though Paulino hadn’t pitched in more than a week after going on the disabled list.

Though good feelings reigned Friday after the White Sox rallied in the ninth inning and won on Jose Abreu's grand slam, the earlier innings were marred by the 11 walks issued by White Sox pitchers.

"It’s never good, but there are teams doing the same thing," Ventura said. "[During Friday's comeback], we wouldn’t have had the opportunity unless we worked some walks ourselves. We know we want to cut down on them, and they know they want to cut down on them, so that just has to get better."

Rienzo called up, Paulino to DL

April, 19, 2014
4/19/14
3:51
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – A day after Felipe Paulino was crushed by the Texas Rangers, the Chicago White Sox right-hander was put on the 15-day disabled list and Andre Rienzo was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte.

Paulino has struggled in four starts with the White Sox, with none worse than Friday's when he gave up 10 runs on 13 hits in 3 2/3 innings. The team says he has rotator cuff inflammation.

Paulino has struggled with injuries in recent years, but the White Sox still committed $1.75 million to him for this season. As a member of the Kansas City Royals in 2012, Paulino had Tommy John surgery at midseason, and last year he developed shoulder issues during his rehabilitation that required an arthroscopic procedure.

Rienzo is expected to slide into Paulino’s spot in the rotation starting next week at Detroit. The right-hander made 10 starts with the White Sox last season, going 2-3 with a 4.82 ERA. He struggled with his command at times last season and those issues appeared to continue this year at Charlotte, where he had a 4.83 ERA over his first three starts.

In other pitching news, left-hander Donnie Veal was outrighted to Charlotte. He was designated for assignment Thursday after posting a 7.50 ERA with the White Sox this season.

Sox call up Putnam, designate Veal

April, 17, 2014
4/17/14
2:42
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- After a 14-nning game that put a major strain on the bullpen, the Chicago White Sox purchased the contract of right-hander Zach Putnam from Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday and designated left-hander Donnie Veal for assignment.

Putnam, 26, has 15 games of major league experience, most recently the five games he pitched in relief for the Chicago Cubs last season. In six relief innings at Charlotte this season he had 11 strikeouts.

Veal made seven relief appearances for the White Sox this season, posting a 7.50 ERA. He walked seven batters in just six innings.

The White Sox will need to pick up innings for right-hander Daniel Webb, who could be down for as many as two games after throwing 59 pitches over three innings in Wednesday's defeat to the Boston Red Sox.

Bullpen gets some redemption in win

April, 16, 2014
4/16/14
12:43
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- While the Chicago White Sox’s walk-off victory stole the show, the much maligned bullpen stood up and made itself noticed Tuesday.

The White Sox improved to 8-6 with the 2-1 victory, scoring the difference-maker in the ninth inning when Alexei Ramirez came in from second base on a throwing error to first base by Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Had the throw to first been on the money instead of in the dirt, the game would have shifted into extra innings.

[+] EnlargeScott Downs
Brian D. Kersey/Getty ImagesScott Downs set the tone for the bullpen, getting out of a seventh-inning jam and tossing a scoreless inning.
Making the rally possible, though, was the performance of a bullpen that had a 6.93 ERA over the first 13 games, the highest for a White Sox team since the 1973 bullpen had a 7.24 ERA over the same stretch of games.

New closer Matt Lindstrom has been far from sharp in the early going, while veteran newcomers Ronald Belisario and Scott Downs have been unable to reach past standards. Downs was at least able to contribute Tuesday with a scoreless inning that tells only part of the story.

The left-hander replaced starter Erik Johnson with runners on first and second base in the seventh inning of a tie game. Downs quickly retired Jackie Bradley Jr. on a strikeout to end the threat, and then retired the first two batters of the eighth inning before giving way to Jake Petricka.

“Everyone knows what kind of player [Downs] is,” Johnson said. “He’s been around for so long, he has the experience and he has the knowledge. I think for him it’s just a matter of time. You saw tonight that he was lights out.”

Before Tuesday’s outing, Downs had pitched five times in a White Sox uniform and failed to record an out in three of the outings. This time, he was able to set the tone for what was to come. Petricka got out of the eighth and recorded the first out of the ninth before allowing a walk to Mike Napoli.

Donnie Veal came on to record an out but hit A.J. Pierzynski with a slow breaking ball that put two runners on base. That threat was no problem for reliever Daniel Webb, who threw one pitch before getting a comebacker from pinch hitter Mike Carp to end another threat.

The White Sox then won it with their run in the ninth inning, with Webb picking up the victory.

“[Manager] Robin [Ventura] said it’s the easiest one I’ll ever get,” Webb said afterward. “First win, it doesn’t matter how you got it. It feels good. I got the lineup card, and I think they are getting the ball.”

He also got the traditional beer shower from his teammates after recording his first major league victory.

“It was nice,” Ventura said of the bullpen’s night. “It started off with Erik, he was as good as he’s pitched this year. He was sharp, and the ball was coming out with life. The bullpen coming in and doing what they did, you know that’s what you are looking for. It was sharp. Downs came in and did his job. Everyone came in and did the job. They give you an opportunity to score runs.”

Maybe Webb hasn’t been around a long time –- Tuesday was his 14th career outing and fifth on the season –- but he knew a much-needed group effort when he saw one.

“I don’t know if that was pressure since everybody wants to do well,” Webb said. “The older guys want to do well just like the younger guys want to do well. We had our struggles early, but tonight we showed that we can pitch well.

“Coming out tonight like that, everybody pitched well, and it was a good team win.”

Challenges ahead for new-look bullpen

April, 1, 2014
4/01/14
3:42
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- For all of the excitement the Chicago White Sox generated Monday with their new-look offense, it was the rebuilt bullpen that ultimately had to save the day.

It was by no means a dominating performance to back up starter Chris Sale, but it was effective nonetheless and new closer Matt Lindstrom finished it off with his first save since 2011 when he was a member of the Colorado Rockies.

[+] EnlargeMatt Lindstrom
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastHours after being named the closer, Matt Lindstrom nailed down his first save of the season Monday.
"Especially when the team puts such a great effort out there and to be out there and get the last three outs it was pretty cool, especially with all the Chicago fans out there supporting us," Lindstrom said. "They love their baseball. This is a sports town. It feels pretty cool to have them out there and rooting like that."

Lindstrom's half inning actually started with a little more groans than cheers. A pitcher with a power sinker isn't supposed to give up a fly ball to the warning track and a double off the wall to the first two batters he faced. But he recovered with a strikeout and an easy comebacker to get the White Sox off to a 1-0 start.

"I feel like I'm suited for the role, but I also feel like we have other guys who could do it," Lindstrom said about being the closer. "I hope we can put together a collective effort this year and help the team win games. None of the guys in the bullpen have egos. We're a good group. We've gelled together well in spring training, and I think we have pretty good chemistry down there and the clubhouse feels good too."

Bullpen struggles were pronounced at times last season. The White Sox relievers had a combined 4.00 ERA, 11th in the American League. While much of the talk in baseball last season was about the Detroit Tigers' disappointing bullpen, they had a nearly identical ERA to the White Sox at 4.01.

And if it wasn't for the Houston Astros moving to the American League last year, the White Sox would have finished with the most defeats from their relievers (36) and the lowest strikeout total (424).

Lindstrom (trade) and Jessie Crain (injury) didn't even make it to the end of last season and over the winter Addison Reed was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, creating a significant bullpen rebuild.

One newcomer, Ronald Belisario, made his White Sox bullpen debut in the eighth inning, striking out Brian Dozier before allowing an inherited runner from Sale to score on a single by Kurt Suzuki. That's when left-hander Donnie Veal was called in to pitch, delivering what might have been the best relief performance of Opening Day even though he faced just one batter.

With the tying run on base, Veal got hit machine Joe Mauer to hit a ground ball to end the top of the eighth inning.

"Probably the toughest out in the league is going in against Joe," manager Robin Ventura said. "He's always going to hit something hard and put something in play. That was a tough spot for Donnie and he did a great job."

It was Veal who turned the ball over to Lindstrom and the veteran jumped back into a role he hasn't had in a few years and looked right at home. The right-hander didn't even learn he was the closer until Ventura told him during Sunday's team workout at U.S. Cellular Field. The last time he held the job for a significant amount of time was in 2010 with the Houston Astros.

"That was a pretty neat feeling for myself," said Lindstrom, who nabbed the role despite making just three Cactus League appearances because of a strained oblique muscle.

"I've done it a little before. I wouldn't say I have extensive experience doing that role, but it has been a long time coming. I feel like I've gotten better as each year the last four years coming out of the bullpen in whatever inning."

Guerra optioned as closer choice looms

March, 28, 2014
3/28/14
1:30
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox still aren’t saying who their closer will be, but the situation became at least a little clearer Friday when right-hander Javy Guerra was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

The White Sox had claimed Guerra off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday and, since he has some closer experience, he was lumped into the group of pitchers who might be asked to wrap up victories this season. Opening Day is Monday when the White Sox play host to the Minnesota Twins in a 3:10 p.m. CST start.

With Guerra now out of the picture, at least for the time being, the closer role appears to be down to Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom and Daniel Webb. All three missed time early in the spring and nobody has stood out as a clear-cut choice.

Jones seems likely to get the job eventually, even if he doesn’t start the season as the closer. Lindstrom saved 23 games for the Houston Astros in 2010. Webb was the longer shot on the board with just nine games of major league experience but remained an intriguing candidate.

Jones opened the spring with a gluteus muscle strain and the first appearance of his high 90-mph fastball in Cactus League action was delayed. In eight Arizona appearances he posted a 2.35 ERA while striking out eight of the 32 batters he faced. He did walk three batters in a single outing, though.

Lindstrom was delayed the longest this spring because of an oblique injury. He had one minor setback in his recovery but was able to make three Arizona appearances while posting a 3.00 ERA. He faced 10 batters and struck out two of them.

Webb missed the opening week of action after a death in his family. He returned to post a 2.57 ERA over seven outings and struck out six of the 28 batters he faced.

At the close of Cactus League play on Thursday manager Robin Ventura told reporters in Arizona that his decision on the role was “still a work in progress.”

The three candidates are vying to be the successor to former closer Addison Reed, who was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks this winter. Reed won the role in 2012 but didn’t start out with it that season as Hector Santiago had been named the closer out of spring training.

By sending Guerra down, the bullpen appears set. The White Sox don't have to finalize a roster until Sunday, but they appear to be leaning toward a relief corps of Ronald Belisario, Miakel Cleto, Scott Downs, Jones, Lindstrom, Donnie Veal and Webb.

Civil rights take center stage

August, 24, 2013
8/24/13
8:25
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The first pitch Saturday kicked off Major League Baseball’s annual Civil Rights Game, but the event was more about the events that occurred leading up to the contest between the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers.

Bo Jackson and Aretha Franklin were given the MLB Beacon of Change Award before the game. Jackson was on hand to receive his, while former major leaguer Willie Horton accepted for Franklin.

There was a roundtable discussion Friday on baseball and civil rights, followed by Saturday's Beacon Awards luncheon to honor those who "embody the spirit of the civil rights movement."

Sharing in the honorary first-pitch duties Saturday were former Negro Leagues pitcher Ernie Westfield, former Negro Leagues player and White Sox legend Minnie Minoso, Sharon Robinson, who is the daughter of Jackie Robinson, and Larry Doby Jr., son of Hall of Famer Larry Doby. White Sox assistant hitting coach Harold Baines caught the first pitch.

“A lot of this is paying tribute to the guys who came before us,” said Baines, one of two African-Americans on the White Sox coaching staff, along with Daryl Boston. “They should never be forgotten.”

According to a White Sox release, “The Civil Rights Game will pay tribute to all those who fought on and off the field for equal rights for all Americans. The game, along with the ancillary events, allows MLB to pay tribute to all of those who have fought and continue to fight injustice.”

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Bullpen still has many question marks

May, 23, 2013
5/23/13
12:49
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox could be prepared to make more roster moves in the near future to address a struggling bullpen.

They made one Wednesday when left-hander Donnie Veal was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

Addison Reed has been solid in the closer's role and Jesse Crain has taken over as the setup man. After that, the White Sox continue to have question marks with a group that was expected to be one of the team's strengths.

Over the past nine games, the bullpen has posted a 7.33 ERA. In that time, the relievers have raised their overall mark from 3.29 to 4.13.

Brian Omogrosso and Nate Jones each gave up two runs in Wednesday's 6-2 defeat to the Boston Red Sox, although one of Omogrosso's runs was unearned.

Jones, in particular, has been a concern for manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper. The hard-throwing right-hander was expected to build off his success as a rookie last season, when he posted an 8-0 record and a 2.39 ERA in 65 outings.

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Donnie Veal optioned to Triple-A Charlotte

May, 23, 2013
5/23/13
12:01
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox optioned left-handed reliever Donnie Veal to Triple-A Charlotte after Wednesday's 6-2 defeat to the Boston Red Sox.

Veal was called on to pitch in the ninth inning and allowed both of his inherited runners to score on a single by Daniel Nava. Veal also walked a batter in his two-thirds of an inning.

Veal was not charged with a run himself in the outing, reducing his ERA to 8.59 in 14 outings this season. He has nine walks and five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings of work.

The move creates roster space to bring back John Danks, who hasn't pitched in the major leagues in over a year after having shoulder surgery in August. That move has yet to be made official, but manager Robin Ventura said that Danks will start in Friday’s series opener against the Miami Marlins.

Sox option Veal, recall Omogrosso

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
3:01
PM CT
Jennings By Randy Jennings
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Chicago White Sox optioned left-handed reliever Donnie Veal to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday and recalled right-handed reliever Brian Omogrosso.

Omogrosso, 29, joined the Sox before Wednesday night's game against the Texas Rangers. He learned of his promotion at 1 a.m. and was in the visitors clubhouse in Arlington 12 hours later.

In 17 relief outings with the White Sox as a rookie in 2012, Omogrosso had a 2.57 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 17 innings. He allowed only one earned run in his final seven appearances, a span of nine innings.

With Charlotte this season, Omogrosso is 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA with nine strikeouts in seven 9.2 innings.

"I was nervous last year with it being my first time up," the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder said. "It helps to have another year of experience and knowing the guys more. You play your whole life for this opportunity."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Veal had "things he needed to work on," but the team doesn’t have the luxury to wait for development.

Veal, 28, was 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in 6 1/3 innings and one hold in 12 relief appearances.

Veal was brought in to face left-handed hitting Mitch Moreland but was touched for an RBI double, the first of six Texas runs in the sixth inning of a 10-6 White Sox loss Tuesday.

Ventura said that after this move, the White Sox will be less likely to call on a reliever to work just one batter with fewer left-handers in the bullpen.

AL's best bullpen springs a leak

April, 21, 2013
4/21/13
5:18
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Things are going so poorly for the Chicago White Sox right now that even one of the reliable portions of the roster stumbled on Sunday.

The American League’s best bullpen over the first three weeks of the season blew a tire, giving up a four-run seventh inning that led to a 5-3 defeat against the weak-hitting Minnesota Twins. The lineup The Twins used had four hitters batting .208 or less and six at .225 or lower.

Matt Lindstrom, Donnie Veal and Jesse Crain combined to allow all four runs in the seventh inning as Gavin Floyd was left with a no-decision after giving up just one run and three hits over six innings.

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Rapid Reaction: Twins 5, White Sox 3

April, 21, 2013
4/21/13
4:10
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Against a Minnesota Twins lineup that had six players batting .225 or less, the Chicago White Sox were defeated 5-3 in the series finale.

How it happened: Normally dependable, the White Sox’s bullpen couldn’t support a solid outing from Gavin Floyd. Matt Lindstrom, Donnie Veal and Jesse Crain combined to give up four runs in the seventh inning after Floyd completed a day when he gave up one run over six innings. The Twins’ Aaron Hicks, who entered batting .042, drove in the first run of the seventh on a single, while Josh Willingham, batting .225 at the outset, delivered a three-run triple off Crain in the inning. White Sox relievers started the day leading the American League with a 1.63 ERA and a .177 opponents' batting average.

What it means: Runs continue to be hard to come by for the White Sox, who have now scored three times or less in eight of their 18 games this season. Three of the first five hitters in the White Sox lineup Sunday were batting .227 at the start of the game or less, including the first two, Alejandro De Aza and Jeff Keppinger. De Aza and Keppinger managed to deliver, though, as Keppinger brought home De Aza twice, even though it was on outs both times, with a ground out in the fourth inning and a fly ball in the sixth.

Outside the box: While it wasn’t enough to end talk of a slump, Adam Dunn did hit a solo home run in the seventh inning to snap an 0-for-31 dry spell. He had one hit in his previous 39 at-bats before going deep. Going back to Saturday’s game, Dunn had struck out five times in six trips to the plate against the Twins before hitting his home run off of reliever Josh Roenicke, his third of the season. He later struck out to end the game.

Off beat: On the one-year anniversary of Philip Humber's perfect game in Seattle last season, Floyd actually retired the first seven batters he faced before a walk to Hicks. Floyd didn’t give up his first hit until Willingham touched him for a single with one out in the fourth inning. After giving up a combined nine runs over his last two starts, Floyd’s outing Sunday was his best of his four appearances this season. He gave up just three hits to go along with the one run he allowed.

Up next: The White Sox will send right-hander Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 4.70 ERA) to the mound Monday against Cleveland in the opener of a three-game series. The Indians will counter with right-hander Justin Masterson (3-1, 1.67) in the 7:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Sox spring training preview: Bullpen

February, 5, 2013
2/05/13
1:59
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Addison ReedMike DiNovo/US PresswireThe White Sox hope to get a more consistent Addison Reed in his second season.
Doug Padilla previews the White Sox by position in the days leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training on Feb. 12.

Nothing beats a cost-effective young closer like Addison Reed, especially since his low price tag gives the Chicago White Sox the opportunity to spend on other areas of the bullpen.

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.

[+] EnlargeMatt Thornton
Mike DiNovo/US PresswireMatt Thornton posted 10 losses last season but still managed a 3.46 ERA.
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.

Ventura putting all the pieces together

September, 24, 2012
9/24/12
11:40
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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The big hit that had eluded the Chicago White Sox during their recent five-game losing streak finally showed up Monday in the form of Adam Dunn's possibly season-changing home-run ball.

And although many will point to that as the turning point in this game, if not this season, the key to the success of the resilient Sox, who maintained a one-game AL Central lead over the Tigers with their 5-4 win over the Indians, starts with Robin Ventura and his coaching staff.

[+] EnlargeChris Sale
Rob Grabowski/US PresswireChris Sale says the Sox's success this season begins at the top with manager Robin Ventura.
The recent five-game skid would have had many a veteran manager dragging out the dreaded “team meeting.” Ventura has different approach to hard times. Instead of the collective Vince Lombardi-type speech, Ventura coaches with one-on-one, calm, instructive conversations.

This is not an indictment of Ozzie Guillen’s handling of hard times, but more of a learned trait among this interesting group of young and veteran players who have become a tight-knit family.

“You saw (a group effort) tonight,” said Sox starter Chris Sale, who pitched seven innings and allowed three runs in a no-decision. “We got some hits and scored some runs when we needed to. We just have to keep pushing. This was Dunner’s night.”

Sale may be right about Dunn and his big night, however Ventura’s belief in his bullpen, including having the nerve to close out a game with Donnie Veal, shows how his confidence in all 25 men has been the Sox’s main formula for success.

Veal got his first career save, retiring Jason Kipnis with the tying run on second base.

“(Ventura’s approach to roster) has been the key,” Sale said. “They have done a heck of a job all year. I can pretty much speak for everyone in here that we love these (coaches) and they have our backs and we have their back as well. We want to win for them and each other. When you get a good combination like that, you know we are in that position because of that.”

Veal, who had retired 24 straight left-handed hitters before Shin-Soo Choo's RBI double in the ninth, is just the latest to get his chance to shine in a clubhouse that has no doghouse.

“The story around here is relax and play the game,” Veal said.

Relievers answer Ventura's calls Monday

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
6:25
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura has frequented the mound 68 times to call upon his bullpen since September arrived.

Through the month’s first 11 games, the bullpen was hit-or-miss for Ventura, allowing 28 runs. Lately, though, it’s become more dependable, and that was case again Monday in the White Sox’s 5-4 win over the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field.

[+] EnlargeNate Jones
Jerry Lai/US PresswireNate Jones picked up the win on Monday with a strong relief effort.
Ventura went to bullpen five times Monday, and the five White Sox’s relievers combined to allow one hit and no runs in five innings.

In the past four games, which were all wins, 13 White Sox relievers have combined to give up five hits and one run in 13 innings.

Nate Jones carried the load in Monday’s win. He was called up in the fifth inning after starter Jose Quintana allowed a double and single to start the inning. Jones started off shaky, allowing a single to Delmon Young to score a run, but from there he settled down. He retired the next seven hitters he faced.

Jones has made 15 consecutive scoreless appearances and again fell in line for the win. He’s now 8-0 on the season.

“Nate picked the bullpen up big time today going those couple innings,” fellow White Sox reliever Brett Myers said. “That’s huge. He stepped up, threw the ball great. He dominated them today. That’s huge. That’s a big step for us to have him throwing the ball well right now.”

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.17 208 174
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .317
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208