KANSAS CITY -- Jacob Turner found himself in an unfamiliar yet desirable position when he started the 10th inning for the White Sox on Tuesday night.
Don’t be surprised if you see him or Dan Jennings in similar trusted spots once again.
With the back of the bullpen short on experience beyond David Robertson, Nate Jones and Matt Albers, White Sox manager Robin Ventura knows he’ll have to turn to several new faces in key spots. Ventura mentioned that Turner, who started the 10th inning of Tuesday’s 7-5 win over the Kansas City Royals, would be one of the first.
“You’re going to take some chances with some guys and move them around,” Ventura said. “Turner is the guy that’s really kind of pushed himself out there to be used in some high-leverage situations. We know where Nate is going to be and Robby is to be, but you can kind of mix and match there with Turner and Jennings in the seventh.”
Turner’s stuff has quickly moved him up the bullpen food chain. His four-seam fastball has averaged just under 95 mph and his sinker has exceeded 95 this season. As a reliever, Turner has also done a better job attacking hitters, albeit in a limited sample size. But in 23 1/3 career innings in relief, Turner has walked three batters compared with 111 bases on balls in 286 innings as a starter.
So for now, Turner will get a chance.
“There’s not much experience,” Ventura said. “But you’re starting to see his stuff really magnified by being able to go out there for an inning. There’s a little more velocity to it. It’s sharper stuff, and for the hitters, they don’t get a whole trip through the lineup to sit there and look at it and time it and get a good idea of what he’s got that day. For him, I think it’s beneficial for him to go out there and do it.”
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Turner, who missed all of last season with right shoulder inflammation, is thrilled to have the opportunity. He said he labored to improve his arm strength in the offseason and feels he can handle the workload. And he isn’t worried about his role, whether he’s a starter or pitching out of the bullpen.
He just wants a chance.
Tuesday he received one. While he gave up a double and allowed an unearned run, Turner recorded two outs before he gave way to Jennings. Jennings recorded his first career save by retiring Eric Hosmer.
“Those are the situations you want to be in, close game, winning, chance to finish off the game,” Turner said. “Those are the situations anybody in the bullpen wants to be in bullpen. I have a little experience …
“Just trying to develop a routine. I’ve been enjoying it and trying to take the success I’ve had out there.”