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posted: 7/21/2012 12:01 AM

For White Sox, bullpen help not easy to find

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The extra wild-card spot is putting extra pressure on White Sox general manager Kenny Williams as the July 31 trade deadline draws closer.

In the American League, only three teams appear to be totally out of the running: the Mariners, Twins and Royals.

In the National League, it's the Cubs, Astros, Padres, Rockies and, most likely, Phillies.

That is pretty slim pickings when you are looking to deal for relief help, and the White Sox desperately need to bolster the bullpen if they plan on holding off the surging Tigers in the AL Central or claiming a wild-card spot.

Detroit beat the White Sox 4-2 on Friday night and is just a half-game out of first.

With five rookies in the bullpen, along with inexperienced Donnie Veal and veteran Matt Thornton, Williams undoubtedly is making calls on more proven arms such as Huston Street, Jonathan Broxton, Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle and Kevin Gregg.

Problem is, 10-15 other contending teams are in the same boat, so landing a quality reliever is going to be extremely difficult for Williams, if not impossible.

Don't blame the White Sox' bullpen for Friday's loss. Starter Jake Peavy allowed all 4 runs, and the Sox' offense was quiet against Justin Verlander and closer Jose Valverde after Alejandro De Aza gave Peavy the early lead with a 2-run homer off Verlander in the third inning.

But while losing three of four at Boston before moving on to Detroit, the White Sox were stung by poor relief outings from Leyson Septimo, Nate Jones, Thornton and Reed.

In Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Red Sox, rookie left-hander Jose Quintana pitched 8 scoreless innings before Thornton and Reed gave it up in the ninth.

A day later, manager Robin Ventura said he went with Thornton to open the ninth because he liked the matchups. Reed, a rookie, is the closer, and he came on with two on and one out and served up the game-winning homer to Cody Ross.

"You have to make decisions one way or another," manager Robin Ventura told reporters Friday when asked why he didn't start with Reed in the ninth inning.

"You use your gut instinct, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. These are the guys we've got, and we have to use them."

Ventura would obviously would prefer having a better bullpen, but he is not one to complain.

And he can't wait until veteran right-hander Jesse Crain (shoulder strain) comes off the disabled list, which should be this weekend.

"It's big," Ventura said. "We've got a lot of young guys. Not only are they young, but you don't know quite what you're getting or what your comfort level is and how you're going to use them.

"With Jesse, you know what you're getting, and I have a higher comfort level in different situations."

Ventura is not worried about Reed, who has 15 saves in 18 attempts.

"Nobody's perfect," Ventura said. "I understand that more from being a player. They've got a tough job. I've seen Mariano Rivera blow saves; I was on the field to see it. It happens. For us, it's rebound and keep going."

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