White Sox

Humber adjusting to life in the bullpen

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Humber adjusting to life in the bullpen

Phil Humbers move from the White Sox starting rotation to the bullpen hasnt left the veteran pitcher with his head down.

Humber pitched a scoreless inning in Tuesdays loss in his first relief appearance of the season, two days after he was moved to the bullpen. Though hes not a neophyte in terms of relief pitching -- Tuesday was his 27th career appearance --Humber doesnt have any visions of stealing jobs from closer Addison Reed or setup man Brett Myers.

But he doesnt have any qualms with whatever role manager Robin Ventura assigns him. On Tuesday, Humber entered the game with the White Sox down by three runs. His task was simple: keep the White Sox down by three runs.

Theres not a meaningless job in the bullpen, Humber said. Of course everyone looks at the closer, everyone looks at the setup guys. But the guys that are pitching when were down in games is important, too, because now youre protecting those guys that are pitching the games when youre up.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Humber could pitch in a variety of roles for the club, including the potential to make a few spot starts if needed. Ventura also lauded Humber for the way he has handled the transition. Humber said on Wednesdays hes excited to see what different roles in which the team uses him.

Hes handled it professionally, Ventura said. Thats part of the job. It doesnt mean anyone has to be happy about it. He is able to put it aside and still do whats best for the team. Hes good enough to be able to (pitch in several roles). In some ways, he could be doing other things. And this is what we need him to do right now.

Humber said hes not concerned he would need to stretch out if the team asks him to start again this season, a scenario which could very well play out with Chris Sale and Jose Quintana nearing or having surpassed their career highs for innings pitched in a season.

But Humber also maintains hes not preoccupied in the quest to return to the White Sox starting rotation.

At this point youre as stretched out as youre gonna be, Humber said. Im not coming in every day thinking I need to make sure Im ready to start if they need me in a week or 10 days. Im focused on, If I get in there tonight, Ive gotta be ready to go tonight. The position our ballclub is in, every game means something. Regardless of what role youre in, as a starter or in the bullpen, its important.

Yeah, Tim Anderson's got a lot of errors, but he's also making plays like this

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USA TODAY

Yeah, Tim Anderson's got a lot of errors, but he's also making plays like this

Yeah, Tim Anderson's got a lot of errors. But he's also making plays like this.

Anderson does have a ton of errors, 20 of them, to be precise, a total greater than any player in baseball. He's committed at least 20 errors in each of his last three seasons, and in four major league seasons he's got 82 of them.

None of that should cancel out the great defensive improvement we saw from Anderson over the course of last season. Just because he's making a lot of errors doesn't mean he's not a good fielder, as the frequent eye-popping defensive plays he makes should illustrate.

The outside focus on Anderson this season has been on almost everything besides the defense: the offense, the attitude, the high ankle sprain, the evolution into one of this young team's leaders. All that's deserved, of course. That injured-list stay has him just outside of qualified status, and if he had it he'd own one of the highest batting averages in the American League. But defense remains a high priority for Anderson, who said he practices plays like the one from Friday night all the time.

"That's stuff I practice on," he said Saturday. "I go out before the game and I practice on those things, and I think it's starting to show now. And people are watching."

"He’s really, really good because he gets to balls most people won’t and then he completes a play like that," manager Rick Renteria said. "He’s been doing that quite a bit now for over two years. You really tip your cap to him and Joe (McEwing, White Sox infield coach), who has been steadfast working with him. For Timmy to take it upon himself to want to be the best at what he does, he continues to work very, very hard and play like that. It’s becoming a staple play like that for him in the hole."

It's true, we've seen that play an awful lot from Anderson this season, even if he was particularly and ridiculously deep Friday night.

According to Renteria, Anderson's range might be one of the reasons he's accumulated more errors than most.

"Anybody that can get to more balls than most people and have more chances (racks up more errors)," Renteria said. "Some of those plays, they are able to extend themselves to make those plays and they are not necessarily in the best position possible. But they are still capable of, with body control, trying to execute some plays.

"I think overall the more balls you can get to, the more chances you have, there’s a great chance of increasing errors — especially at shortstop, where he covers a lot of ground."

Those who watch Anderson on a nightly basis know that his error total doesn't define him as a defender at shortstop. They know he makes a ton of plays that few other shortstops make. But there will be those who scan the statistics at the end of the season and see all those errors and jump to their own conclusions.

That error total, whatever it ends up being, doesn't need to come with an asterisk. But maybe a link to some of the highlight-reel plays would be helpful.

Anderson's season deserves all the praise it's received for his offensive breakout, his excitement-generating bat flips and his rise as one of the young leaders in a group primed for such a bright future.

But remember the defense. It's a big part of what makes him a core player for this White Sox team.

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WATCH: Nick Kwiatkoski bolsters his case for backup ILB spot with nice sack

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@ChicagoBears

WATCH: Nick Kwiatkoski bolsters his case for backup ILB spot with nice sack

The Bears' are still aren't sure who their backup inside linebackers are, and it's one of the positions Matt Nagy has his eye on tonight. 

Cue Nick Kwiatkoski, who's had an up-and-down preseason so far. Midway through the 1st quarter, Chuck Pagano sent him on a blitz:

It's a nice move from the fourth-year pro, who is battling with Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Josh Woods, and Kevin Pierre-Louis for the backup role.