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Bobby Jenks and Sergio Santos both contributed a scoreless inning to the cause during the Sox’s 9-5 loss to Kansas City on Monday.
One of them left the field pointing to the sky in celebration, and one might think that it would’ve been the guy who wasn’t even a pitcher at this point last year.
But nope, it was Jenks. Granted, it was a self-deprecating gesture, as Jenks has never been a great spring pitcher. Yet it’s also an acknowledgment from the man himself about how high-maintenance he’s become. His back hurts. His calf hurts. He’s too fat. He’s in great shape. His velocity will come around. He doesn’t need velocity. He needs to wind up.
There’s never one fix, one solution, which is why 75 percent of Jenks-related discussion pertains to getting him back to his old self, whatever that is right now. He’s never a fun guy to talk about.
Through all the hand-wringing, he’s become a great foil for Santos, who is just rocking and firing his way to great results — similar to the way Jenks did in 2005.
I think we can get used to Santos being the seventh reliever. He walked one and struck out two over his inning of work. His fastball hit the high-90s, and his strikeouts — one Mike Aviles, one Wilson Betemit — came on high-80s sliders. He has the liveliest stuff in the Sox bullpen, and he’s too dynamic to hide from other teams.
It’s remarkable, and also a little disconcerting. The Sox have pumped a lot of money into the bullpen, and they’ve also acquired some highly touted relief candidates from other teams’ farm system, and yet it’s a career position player who’s lapping the field in terms of pure stuff.
That said, I’m not going to complain. Ever since the Great Bullpen Collapse of 2007, the Sox have lagged behind in finding league-minimum relievers. Outside of D.J. Carrasco, every one they’ve tried has had an obvious, fatal design flaw.
Santos’ control might be his undoing, for all we know, but it’s too early to tell. It’s not premature to say he has a high-leverage repertoire, though, and that alone is encouraging. The Sox haven’t graduated too many guys who have the pitches to get out of tight situations. Bobby Jenks was the last internal option; Matt Thornton was the last cheap one.
Fortunately, nobody needs to know that much about Santos at this moment. He doesn’t need to be a high-leverage reliever — he just can’t be a disaster. Ozzie Guillen has experience in getting work for delicate bullpen cases without killing the team (see MacDougal, Mike), and Santos will probably be on that plan if he makes it on the Opening Day roster.
And if he does get that far, watching him in action should turn out to be one of the highlights of April, for better or for worse. It’s not often Sox fans have looked forward to watching a relief pitcher, but Santos seems to be a different case in almost every way.
Jake Peavy redefined the phrase “getting his work in” on Monday. The Royals rocked him for seven runs on 10 hits over three innings, but that’s because 71 of 74 Peavy pitches were fastballs.
“I’ll take my chances in the regular season,” said Peavy, who followed his 74 in-game pitches with 21 in the bullpen. “That’s a good team but obviously it will be a different story when you go out there with a game plan for each hitter. I know it was hard for you guys to believe or see, but today was another step for me in the right direction.
“The bottom line is I’m trying to build up arm strength. I was 91 to 94 [mph] today, building velocity and strength. It really went well. I threw three breaking balls and got outs on two and a take on one.”
“As a rule of thumb, twice a month something is going to come up. Sometimes it’s back-to-back in a week, sometimes every other week, but if you’re a White Sox player you just kind of prepare that it’s not boring around here and things kind of pop up. That’s just the way it is. There’s always some controversies that pop up here that are a little different than most teams, but that’s the way we roll here.’’
*The Birmingham Barons will be the Sox’s Double-A team through 2014, at least.
*Scott Podsednik says he thinks there were misunderstandings between his camp and the White Sox during early offseason negotiations, but harbors no ill will.
*White Sox previews:
- SI.com’s Tim Marchman loves the pitching. Key quote:
Any team on which what’s left of Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre and Omar Vizquel have reasonably prominent roles could be a disaster. If any team won’t be, though, it’s this one.
- Baseball Digest Daily offers an in-depth look. Key quote:
It’s not clear why Kenny Williams decided to acquire a player who hits like Chris Getz and plays left field (Juan Pierre) and trade the real Chris Getz for the pricier Mark Teahen instead of just using the money given to both Teahen and Pierre and hiring a left fielder who could hit. But that’s what he did, and the fans will turn on these two for not living up to their billings.