Chicago White Sox: Matt Thornton

Extra Bases: Deadline offers less trepidation

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
9:00
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The non-waiver trade deadline is exactly four weeks away and the Chicago White Sox figure to be busy, even though this year's team is much improved from last year's squad.

It isn't as if the White Sox will be open to moving as many players as they were willing to give up in 2013.

While everybody seemed to be on pins and needles last July, the team now has an established young core that will remain intact once the calendar flips to August.

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Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Avisail Garcia aren't going anywhere. And unlike a year ago when the White Sox might have been willing to deal Alexei Ramirez, the shortstop's rebound this season figures to keep him out of any trade talk -- unless a return package is significant.

Trade candidates include Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo. Matt Lindstrom might have been in that group had he not needed surgery to heal an ankle injury.

“Yeah, I think with everybody, that [trade] stuff comes up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It's natural for every team to have those kind of things. For us, it's just taking care of playing the game. You're looking at spurts of us where we'll play well, and then there will be a spurt where you don't do things well and you get beat.

“It has to be more consistent to be able to make an extended run at that.”

It still doesn't feel as though there is as much tension in the White Sox clubhouse this July as there was exactly a year ago, before Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain were moved.

“It was bad last year,” Ventura said. “I think that was a little more in your face. Here, you see, it's just better, as far as being able to compete with certain teams and playing better. It's been pretty inconsistent, but last year was just bad.”

Read all about it: Here is the Rapid Reaction from Wednesday’s 3-2 walk-off victory over the Angels. … Abreu won the American League rookie of the month award for the second time. … Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels is impressed with Abreu.

Keep an eye on this: With an infield single in the fourth inning Wednesday, Eaton has reached base in 25 of his past 26 games.

Question of the day: If the White Sox make moves before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, will they aim to bring aboard major league-ready players or prospects for the farm system?

Keppinger cut shows Sox mean business

May, 14, 2014
May 14
4:06
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Jeff KeppingerKelvin Kuo/USA TODAY SportsJeff Keppinger didn't live up to the expections the Sox had when they signed him before the 2012 season.
Hungry to continue their roster rebuild, the Chicago White Sox elected to eat some salary with Wednesday’s decision to designate Jeff Keppinger for assignment.

Talk about your changes in company policy.

When the White Sox were in sell-off mode last season, a big priority in making deals was finding trade partners who were willing to take most, if not all, of a player’s entire salary in a deal. With the Jake Peavy and Alex Rios deals, not to mention the Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton trades, the White Sox shed some $37 million-plus in future earnings, making that savings as attractive as the players who were being acquired.

What Wednesday’s move seems to signify is that guaranteed at-bats for infielders like Conor Gillaspie, Marcus Semien, and even Gordon Beckham, are worth the estimated $7.5 million the White Sox are set to pay Keppinger through the 2015 season.

(Read full post)

2013 White Sox review: Bullpen

October, 5, 2013
10/05/13
9:00
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Doug Padilla recaps the White Sox and looks at what changes might be in store for 2014.

Addison Reed Jason Miller/Getty ImagesAddison Reed saved 40 games, including six straight, for the Sox this season.
The roller-coaster bullpen got off to a slow start, improved in midseason and then limped to the finish in 2013. The late-season decline can be attributed to the departures of Matt Thornton (traded to the Red Sox) and Jesse Crain (injured and then traded to the Rays), but closer Addison Reed also appeared to run out of gas at the finish. It was no coincidence that the bullpen improved this season when Nate Jones started to dominate after early struggles.

The good: Forget about Reed’s late-inning struggles for a minute and realize that the right-hander saved 40 games at the tender age of 24. Reed’s save total tied Bobby Jenks for fourth best in a single season in team history. Reed amazingly saved each game of the White Sox’s six-game winning streak in August, but that heavy workload appeared to catch up with him in September. Jones bounced back to show closer’s stuff at times. Free-agent addition Matt Lindstrom led the pitchers with 76 appearances.

The bad: Once Thornton and Crain left, the White Sox had their issues with a patchwork bullpen. Donnie Veal, Ramon Troncoso and David Purcey had to pick up a significant amount of innings. In fact, out of the 472 1/3 innings pitched by the bullpen this season 157 1/3 of them were pitched by relievers not on the Opening Day roster. Opposing hitters had a .254 batting average against the White Sox’s bullpen, with only one team, the Houston Astros, worse in that category in the American League. The White Sox also had the unfortunate juxtaposition of being in the bottom five of relief innings pitched, but the top five of earned runs allowed (210).

Who’s next?: The White Sox will chalk up Reed’s shaky September to a young closer feeling his way through his first full season in that role, but Reed did have plenty of time as a closer in 2012. It isn’t out of the question that Reed could be used as trade bait, with Jones getting first crack at the role if a deal goes down, but with so many things to accomplish this offseason, the front office might be reluctant to add a newly remodeled bullpen to the to-do list. Expect the White Sox to pursue a late-inning left-hander on the free-agent market to fill Thornton’s old role.

2014 outlook: Although Reed would beg to differ, the White Sox bullpen wasn’t as taxed as most in the American League thanks to a solid rotation that was able to absorb innings. Another year of experience should only help the late-inning duo of Jones and Reed. Filling the Thornton and Crain roles won’t be easy, though. September call-up Daniel Webb, who closed out the season with four consecutive scoreless outings that were all at least 1 1/3 innings long, is a favorite to grab a 2014 Opening Day roster spot.

Sox starting the slow rise from the ashes

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
5:39
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Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Finally elevated enough to be able to look down at rock bottom, the Chicago White Sox were able lament Wednesday's missed opportunities against the Detroit Tigers while still knowing that a better brand of baseball has arrived.

The White Sox just completed their first winning homestand in three months, and while it might not prove that things are permanently on the rise, it is finally a sign that the club wasn't as bad as their recent 10-game losing streak, and 13 defeats in 14 games suggested.

Bottoming out never is a graceful thing to do, and the healing process can have its issues as well, but in going 6-4 in the last 10 home games, the White Sox look to be in a better place, even though they lost four veterans in trades and, more recently, just left 15 runners on base in a 6-4 defeat to the Tigers on Wednesday.

"It's kind of a different team right now," manager Robin Ventura said. "We have some new players and it becomes a different mix of who you're playing. It's good. It's good they're starting out this way."

(Read full post)

White Sox need more than a tuneup

July, 31, 2013
7/31/13
10:22
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CLEVELAND -- Like that old clunker in the driveway, the Chicago White Sox are dusty, with chipped paint and four flat tires.

If Tuesday night's Jake Peavy trade started the process of finding new parts to make "Old Reliable" purr again, Wednesday was the night to realize just how trying it will be to complete the rebuild.

The White Sox probably are not as bad as their current run of six consecutive defeats and losses in nine of their past 10 games, but they also aren’t ready to dominate any time soon.

Addison Reed, who has proved to be vulnerable of late, coughed up two ninth-inning runs after the White Sox had scored two of their own in the top of the inning, and Dylan Axelrod gave up the game-winning home run to the Indians' Carlos Santana, the first batter he had faced in eight days.

The concept was that once the non-waiver trade deadline passed, the White Sox might be a relaxed team again with no more uncertainty. The reality is they are all over the place, with an inconsistent offense and a bullpen that is showing the kind of cracks it did when it got off to a slow start to the season.

After trading pitchers Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and Peavy, the White Sox need to work their way into a flow again, so at the very least the front office can get a better assessment of what kind of players it has heading toward the offseason, when more rebuilding will occur.

The bullpen was supposed to be the strength of the club, with Reed locking down the ninth inning after Nate Jones had cleaned up the eighth. In the end, it was a tall order for a pair of young pitchers who are still expected to anchor the relief corps moving forward.

Wednesday was Reed’s fifth blown save in 31 tries, with the Indians proving to be a particularly difficult endeavor. He not only gave up the tying runs in the ninth on Wednesday, but also gave up four runs to Cleveland on June 28 in a defeat during the second game of a doubleheader.

Reed has looked out of sync of late while not getting regular chances to close games during the White Sox’s struggles. But on Wednesday he made no excuses.

“I feel great,” Reed said. “Things aren’t working out the way I want them to.”

Things aren’t working out how anybody with the White Sox wants them to, and now the Sox will move forward with a roster that is missing three veteran pitchers.

“There’s no answer,” Reed said. “When things are going bad, they’re going bad. It’s something new every night. Tonight, it was 100 percent my fault. Just got to hang with them and get after them tomorrow.”

For the White Sox, it’s all about tomorrow and getting that former prized possession back on the road again.

“I don’t think any of us have an answer for it or else we would have changed and figured it out,” Reed said. “It’s part of the game. I wish I knew how to fix it or what to do about it.”

Woeful first half likely to usher in change

July, 15, 2013
7/15/13
2:33
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Alexei RamirezKyle Rivas/Getty ImagesThis season hasn't gone according to plan for Alexei Ramirez and the White Sox.
CHICAGO -- When the final chapter is written, the Chicago White Sox's 2013 first half likely will go down as one that altered a franchise.

A roster that had some young elements, while also being aged and expensive, completely failed to deliver on its potential in a flop that was as much injury-driven as it was failure-based.

No fewer than 10 players have spent time on the disabled list this season, including three starting pitchers, two middle-of-the-order mainstays and the entire right side of the infield.

Captain Paul Konerko fits in two of those categories, and his early-season struggles, combined with his back injury and eventual expiring contract is a big reason the White Sox find themselves at their current crossroads.

(Read full post)

White Sox deal Thornton to Red Sox

July, 12, 2013
7/12/13
10:20
PM CT
Edes By Gordon Edes
ESPNChicago.com
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The Boston Red Sox have acquired left-handed reliever Matt Thornton and cash considerations from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs.

Read the entire story.

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 8, White Sox 2

July, 8, 2013
7/08/13
11:15
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox came home in the middle of their road trip for a makeup game only to get thumped 8-2 on Monday by the Chicago Cubs.

How it happened: Josh Phegley provided a spark in his third career game, hitting a home run and picking a runner off first base, but the White Sox couldn’t avoid the season sweep at the hands of their cross-town rivals. The Sox lost three games to the Cubs in late May and Monday’s interleague contest was a makeup game for a May 28 rainout. White Sox reliever Matt Thornton recorded one out in the eighth inning while giving up three runs.

What it means: The White Sox were swept by the Cubs in the season series for the first time since the teams each played host to games in their park in the same year. The Cubs had a three-game sweep in 1998 with the teams only playing in Wrigley Field that year. After playing a pair of three-game series each of the last 14 seasons, the series was reduced to a pair of two-game series this year. The best any team did while playing six games against each other in a season was in 2007 when the Cubs went 5-1.

Outside the box: It didn’t take Phegley long to earn a comparison to former White Sox middle-of-the-order mainstay Magglio Ordonez. With a home run in his second and third career game, Phegley became the quickest White Sox rookie to hit home runs in back-to-back games since Ordonez also did it in his second and third games.

Off beat: First the game was delayed by rain 29 minutes, then it was delayed when Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza walked across the field in the top of the first inning. After preparing for his outing in the bullpen, Garza decided to walk from the right-field bullpen and across the outfield while his team was batting in the first inning. The game was delayed briefly as players from both teams watched Garza make his grand entrance.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.69 ERA) to the mound Tuesday at Detroit in the opener of a three-game series. The Tigers will counter with right-hander Justin Verlander (9-5, 3.54) in the 6:05 p.m. CST start from Comerica Park.

Role play continues at halfway point

July, 3, 2013
7/03/13
10:24
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- At the halfway point of a most disappointing season, the Chicago White Sox continue to swap roles and step into other people’s shoes essentially on a nightly basis.

The latest role swap came in the eighth inning of a tie game Wednesday night against the Baltimore Orioles, when Matt Lindstrom was asked to take over the spot usually occupied by Jesse Crain. Before the game, it was announced that Crain (shoulder strain) and Paul Konerko (back strain) were headed for the disabled list.

[+] EnlargeMatt Lindstrom, Robin Ventura
Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune/MCTA change in White Sox pitching roles as a result of Jesse Crain's injury left Matt Lindstrom out of sorts Wednesday against the Orioles.
Lindstrom’s move to the eighth inning didn’t go as planned, but, really, what has for the Sox this season?

The right-hander gave up hits to two of the three batters he faced. He then turned the ball over to left-hander Matt Thornton, who gave up a two-run double down the line to the red-hot Chris Davis and the game was no longer tied.

Just how good has Crain been this season? Two guys tried to carry his workload for a day and it proved difficult in the 4-2 defeat.

“On a normal night, Jesse’s coming in [there],” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s been a pretty good spot for us with him. I think anytime you lose that kind of element out of your bullpen, it’s tough. It moves people around, not that they can’t do the job there.

“What you’re used to seeing is not there anymore. So guys are going to have to step up and fill those shoes for a while.”

The White Sox know all about that. Ten different players have registered time on the disabled list, while Chris Sale had one of his starts skipped because of shoulder tendonitis.

If the White Sox have learned anything in the first half, it’s how to wear different hats. It might not help them in the second half, though, especially when trades start happening as expected.

At the 81-game point of the season, the White Sox find themselves a disappointing 33-48, matching a season-high mark at 15 games under .500.

The bullpen had a slow start to the season, but had been relatively injury free until Crain went down. It didn’t take but one game to see the effects.

“It’s tough to lose Jesse,” said Lindstrom, who fell to 2-3 after taking the loss. “He’s been pitching awesome for us this year. Anytime one of your studs go down you try to pick each other up like that. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

“The Orioles have a great lineup, man. You just have to forget about this one and come back and win the series [Thursday].”

At this point next month, the White Sox figure to be looking at an entirely retooled roster built more for the future than the present. Until that happens, however, the current roster will try to focus on the short term.

“I think more, we’re trying to get through the All-Star break,” Ventura said when asked to assess the first half.

“When you sit here without having Paulie and Crain in there, you don’t have your regular guys to turn it around and guys are going to have to step it up. We’ll get to that point first before we start looking beyond that.”

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 4, White Sox 2

July, 3, 2013
7/03/13
9:20
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- With a 4-2 defeat Wednesday to the Baltimore Orioles, the Chicago White Sox fell to 2-6 during their current nine-game homestand.

How it happened: The Orioles’ Chris Davis continues to roll along, with a go-ahead two-run double in the eighth inning after hitting a home run in the fourth. Davis leads the major leagues with 32 home runs. Gordon Beckham hit a game-tying home run in the fifth inning, his first since Sept. 18 of last season. White Sox starter Hector Santiago worked out of a first-inning jam to give up two runs on five hits over seven innings. Scott Feldman, who was making his first start with the Orioles after being traded from the Cubs this week, gave up two runs on six hits over six innings.

What it means: After just one day on the disabled list, the shoulder strain to Jesse Crain already appeared to be costly. Matt Lindstrom pitched in the spot that likely would have gone to Crain and saw two of the three batters he faced reach base. Matt Thornton came on to give up the two-run double, with both runs charged to Lindstrom. The right-hander Lindstrom had entered with a 0.59 ERA over his previous 18 appearances and on Sunday saw the end of a 17-appearance stretch in which he didn’t give up an earned run.

Outside the box: Before giving up a two-run double on his first pitch of the game, Thornton had been solid since the start of June. Thornton entered with six consecutive scoreless appearances and had a 1.80 ERA with 13 strikeouts over his previous 13 games before Wednesday. In that stretch of 13 games, Thornton had inherited 11 runners while allowing two to score, the same he let score with his first pitch Wednesday.

Offbeat: As the Stanley Cup made an appearance at U.S. Cellular Field, stationed in front of the White Sox dugout before the game, an unexpected visitor approached. Orioles left-hander T.J. McFarland crashed the party to take a photo. The apparent Blackhawks fan, who didn’t want to miss a chance at a fleeting second with the Cup, is a native of nearby Palos Hills, Ill. Patrick Sharp and Brandon Bolling were on hand for the Blackhawks.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.97 ERA) to the mound Thursday in the finale of the three-game series with the Orioles. He will be opposed by left-hander Zach Britton (2-2, 4.50) in the 1:10 p.m. CT start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Jim Bowden takes a look at a few teams that are looking to make a deal before the trade deadline.

Rapid Reaction: A's 5, White Sox 4

June, 6, 2013
6/06/13
10:09
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox fell 5-4 to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday in the opener of a four-game series and a seven-game homestand.

How it happened: Oakland's Adam Rosales hit a home run in the 10th inning off reliever Matt Thornton for the go-ahead run, one of four home runs for the A's on the night. The offensively-challenged White Sox did score four times in the first five innings and then didn't score again over the final five. The White Sox left the tying run at third base in the 10th inning when Adam Dunn flied out to the wall in left field on an 0-2 pitch. After Wednesday's 16-inning game, starter Jose Quintana hung in for 7 2/3 innings to help preserve the bullpen, but gave up four runs on three home runs in the process. Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes hit two of the home runs.

What it means: The White Sox showed some resiliency after Wednesday's 5-hour, 42-minute game followed by the flight from Seattle to Chicago that had them arriving in the early-morning hours Thursday. The offense, while still far from being a juggernaut, was slightly improved from what it showed during the recent eight-game losing streak before losing steam in the late innings. The White Sox have lost to the A's four times over the past seven days with three more games remaining between the teams this weekend. The A's have won 17 of their last 20 games. The White Sox have lost nine of their last 10.

Outside the box: The White Sox's continually changing starting staff is beginning to take a toll. After posting a 3.44 ERA over the first 44 games of the season, White Sox starters have posted a 5.49 EA over the last 11 games. Gavin Floyd has already been lost for the season, while in the last few weeks, John Danks has returned, Chris Sale missed a start and Jake Peavy went on the disabled list.

Off beat: The White Sox managed to pack a lot of organizational excitement into one moment as Alexei Ramirez hit a two-run single in the third inning at the same time the White Sox's first-round draft pick was being announced by commissioner Bud Selig. Talk about your coincidences as not only was Ramirez, a shortstop, delivering the two-run hit, but the White Sox were also drafting Tim Anderson, a junior college shortstop out of Mississippi.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Chris Sale (5-3, 2.44 ERA) to the mound against Oakland in the second game of the four-game series. The A's will counter with right-hander Jarron Parker (4-6, 4.90) in the 7:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Mistakes burn Sox in fourth straight loss

April, 22, 2013
4/22/13
11:51
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
[+] EnlargeMatt Thornton
David Banks'USA TODAY SportsSox reliever Matt Thornton took the loss Monday, giving up two runs in the eighth.
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox strengths going into the season were said to be their pitching staff from 1-12 and a defense that made the fewest errors in baseball in 2012.

The pitching part of that equation had mostly held true until the bullpen misfired over the weekend during back-to-back losses to Minnesota, and redemption did not come on Monday evening.

Setup man Matt Thornton was unable to preserve a one-run lead for starter Dylan Axelrod, who left after six solid innings of work having allowed one run. The veteran lefty Thornton gave up two runs in the eighth, making a costly throwing error on a pickoff throw that sailed into the outfield to set up the tying and go-ahead runs. Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera drove in both runs with a base hit after the damaging error.

“If you have been winning games that doesn’t hurt as much,” Thornton said. “When you have a string of losses going and you make a mistake that costs you a game it is frustrating.”

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Indians 3, White Sox 2

April, 22, 2013
4/22/13
10:00
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox's losing streak reached four games, three of which were at home, after a 3-2 defeat to the Cleveland Indians on Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.

How it happened: The White Sox aren’t getting much offense and what they are getting isn’t holding up. Clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning, Matt Thornton gave up an infield single and a walk followed by a wild pickoff throw to second base that put runners in scoring position. Asdrubal Cabrera made him pay with a go-ahead two-run single. For the second consecutive day a solid start was wasted, this time from Dylan Axelrod, who gave up one run on three hits over six innings.

What it means: The bullpen coughed up the lead for the second consecutive game as suddenly the most consistent part of the team is wavering. After giving up a four-run inning Sunday, the bullpen went from the best ERA in the American League to the second best at 2.22. The bullpen still entered with the best opponents’ batting average at .183. It stands to reason, though, that if the relievers are pitching in tight games every night it’s not always going to end as planned. A member of the bullpen has taken the loss in each of the three games of the homestand.

Outside the box: The White Sox have been in nearly all of their games this season, they just can finish the deal. Of their 19 games so far, a whopping 17 have been decided by three runs or less. The White Sox are 4-6 in one-run games, 1-3 in two-run games and 1-2 in three-run games. Their record on the season fell to 7-12.

Off beat: Nobody disputes the value of groundskeeper Roger Bossard, but his field pulled a fast one on left fielder Alejandro De Aza. The Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall hit a ball to shallow left in the second inning and before De Aza could get a glove on it, the ball took a wild hop to his right. It was originally ruled an RBI single and an error, but changed to a double when replays showed the bad hop.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Jose Quintana (1-0, 2.55 ERA) to the mound Tuesday against the Indians in the middle game of the three-game series. Cleveland will counter with right-hander Zach McAllister (1-2, 3.12) in the 7:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Bullpen talent a relief to Ventura

April, 2, 2013
4/02/13
11:17
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox bullpen wasn't necessarily the brightest of some bright stars on Opening Day, yet by the time the 2013 season picks up momentum it could be the glue that holds the club together.

Blessed with the ideal mix of live young arms and veteran savvy, the belief is that the late innings will be no place for opponents to forge a rally.

While not wanting to drop too much expectation on his relief corps this early in the season, manager Robin Ventura knows that his bullpen could become the strength of the roster.

"I hope by the end of the year it's that way," Ventura said after the White Sox's 1-0 victory Monday over the Kansas City Royals. "Right now I don't know if anyone has roles or anything in particular except for (Addison Reed), but I would like to say that. We're confident in it. I'm confident in it."

(Read full post)

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