ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Robin Ventura would really love it if his relievers’ arms don’t fall off because the team relies on its bullpen so much.
If they continue at their current pace, some White Sox relievers would likely require a new appendage before the season ends. Common sense says it’s easier to win ballgames if pitchers have all their parts working.
With that in mind, the White Sox desire more production from their offense. They’ve managed to produce big hits at the right time and done enough to help the club to its best start since 1982. But the White Sox also believe their offense — which has averaged 3.8 runs through nine games and hasn’t been shut out — has more in the tank and they’d like to tap into that as soon as possible.
“You always take (blowouts),” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I don’t think there’s ever a day where you don’t want those. We’re learning now how to win close games, and that’s nice. But you’re not going to be able to run the bullpen out there necessarily the way we’ve been doing it every night. You’ll end up wearing them out.”
Matt Albers, Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson already have combined for 23 appearances through the team’s first nine games. At this rate, Duke is on pace to appear in 126 games.
It’s not as if it’s bad thing the White Sox have had to rely on their bullpen so much. They already have played three one-run games, another two-run contest and two more decided by three. The team’s record in those games is 5-1.
But they’d love if they could get a little more breathing room and reduce the bullpen’s workload. Though you never can tell based on spring training how an offense will perform, the White Sox felt confident they’d improve. They scored 5.75 runs per game in Arizona, up more than a run from last season.
“We can be better,” first baseman Jose Abreu said through an interpreter. “No doubt about it. We can be better, and we can produce more. Our offense has been good but not as good as we expect we can be. But we put in effort every day trying to do other things and sooner rather than later we’re going to show what we’re able to do from the offensive side.”
Abreu has been impressed with the team’s pitching staff as a whole. The team brought an American League-best 2.25 ERA into Friday’s contest. Abreu said it’s a comfort to know how good the staff is, that they can keep the White Sox in the majority of games.
Ventura also is comfortable because he believes the team is capable of much more. The White Sox have done enough to win seven of their first nine. But Adam Eaton is the only player who has had any kind of hot streak early in the season.
“They’ve been coming up with the runs when you need them,” Ventura said. “When you look at them, Adam seems to be getting on base. He’d be the one guy.
“But as far as scoring a ton of runs, we’re not doing that. But we’re able to get the hit, get the guy on when we need to get him on, get him over, get him in.
“Would you like (a blowout)? Yeah. We’ll take one any time we can get one.”