White Sox

Robin Ventura: White Sox bullpen has different 'vibe' in 2015

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Robin Ventura: White Sox bullpen has different 'vibe' in 2015

CLEVELAND -- Perhaps his new bullpen feels different for Robin Ventura because it hasn’t had his stomach in knots.

Last year’s relievers often had Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper feeling queasy as they tried to determine who could get the job done. Though it’s early, the White Sox manager already likes the weapons he has at the back end of his bullpen.

Led by closer David Robertson and setup man Zach Duke, the White Sox feel better prepared for late-game situations and they’re still not at full strength.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Jose Quintana, bullpen lead White Sox to third straight win]

“Every time you turn around and your roster changes, it changes the dynamic of your team and having guys in the bullpen like that, there’s just a different vibe to it,” Ventura said.

The vibe had to be changed if the White Sox had any hope of turning it around this season. Last year’s bullpen blew 21 of 57 save opportunities. To remedy the situation, Duke and Robertson received $61 million worth of contracts this offseason. The White Sox also traded for left-hander Dan Jennings in December, sending Andre Rienzo to the Miami Marlins.

The new-look ‘pen had its strongest showing to date in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Cleveland Indians when Jennings, Duke and Robertson struck out eight in three scoreless innings. Robertson earned his second save of the season.

“We’ve got a good thing going, for sure,” Duke said. “We’re ready to take the ball and get the job done.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Melky Cabrera 'relieved' to hear Indians pitcher is OK]

Catcher Tyler Flowers is impressed with the wide-ranging repertoires of the team’s new additions. Jennings is a southpaw with a fastball/slider combo. Duke has two different arm slots from which to work and Robertson features a 94-mph fastball and a hard-breaking curveball.

“We’re putting them in good situations getting some runs across, getting us the lead and letting those guys prepare and come in ready to execute and they’ve been doing that,” Flowers said. “They’ve been doing a good job.”

Reinforcements could be on the way soon, too.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

If he can replicate last season’s performance, right-hander Jake Petricka  (2.96 ERA in 2014) would be a steady addition. Petricka, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a sore forearm, came out of Monday’s 25-pitch simulate game in good shape and Ventura hopes he could return by this weekend.

Down the road, the White Sox hope for contributions from Nate Jones, who can’t come off the 60-day DL until June 4, and Jesse Crain, who is still in extended spring training.

But Ventura feels like he and Cooper can make some sense of what they already have in hand.

“Just the feeling of those guys coming out there, I think Jennings and Duke and Robertson is a nice combination right now,” Ventura said. “You have some veteran guys with Duke and Robertson, you’re seeing a different feeling just because of their experience and their talent.”

Rick Hahn 'intrigued' by offseason talks White Sox are involved in

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USA TODAY

Rick Hahn 'intrigued' by offseason talks White Sox are involved in

The baseball offseason is moving at a quicker pace than recent years and White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is among those happy to see that.

Hahn and the White Sox contributed to that quick start to the offseason by signing Yasmani Grandal on Nov. 21. He said he prefers that in an interview with Bruce Levine and Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score on Saturday.

Hahn also gave an update on the team’s offseason.

“We still have work to do, but at the same time we’re obviously quite pleased to have added Yasmani Grandal, much to no one’s surprise bringing back Jose Abreu and we’re intrigued by some of the talks we have going on right now,” Hahn said. “Obviously you can’t convert on everything a point that was publicly driven home this past week, but at the same time we know that regardless of whether we convert on one specific target or not, there are still a lot of reasons to be excited based on the guys we currently have, much less what we may add in the coming weeks.”

The comment about being unable to convert on everything is surely a reference to Zack Wheeler signing with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Hahn didn’t give any hints as to what the White Sox are working on, but he did say he prefers the speed of this offseason.

“We’d certainly prefer to do things sooner rather than later,” Hahn said. “That’s generally true regardless of the time of year.”

If Hahn wants to get things done quickly, it would make sense that the winter meetings could be a time of White Sox activity. Hahn wasn’t biting on that.

“There’s nothing magical about getting a deal done Tuesday at the winter meetings,” Hahn said. “It creates a little more buzz perhaps and fulfills some expectations within the fanbase and the media.

“A guy is not going to have any less impact on your team if you acquire him Dec. 20 vs. Dec. 12.”

Hahn also gave updates on various current players on the team:

  • Yasmani Grandal has been studying up on White Sox pitchers and how he can help the young pitchers develop.

 

“This guy’s No. 1 goal and No. 1 priority is to make the pitchers better," Hahn said. "He’s texting me two, three times a week still with stuff he had seen on our guys and conversations he’s had with our guys about how he thinks we’re going to be able to get them better in the coming months.”

  • Hahn was asked if the White Sox would add another middle infielder to provide cover until Nick Madrigal comes up. He didn't rule it out, but cited Leury Garcia and Danny Mendick as capable of helping out. Hahn has previously said he expects Madrigal to be up for most of the 2020 season.
  • Nothing new here, but Hahn said Michael Kopech will enter spring training "without restriction" and will have "some innings management" throughout the season. Kopech missed 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery late in the 2018 season.
  • Carlos Rodon's timeline to return from Tommy John surgery hasn't changed. Hahn said they will re-evaluate him in April to see where he is after spring training. He is still tentatively expected to return in late July or early August.

 

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Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.

Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.

Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.

So there’s that.

The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.

Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.

The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.

It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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