Can you guess whom Robin Ventura is talking about?
"Last year, it was just try to stay here and survive," the White Sox' manager was saying after Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Indians. "It kind of felt game to game there for a little while. (This year), he has that maturity and confidence that he belongs here."
The answer is starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who stretched his scoreless innings streak to 18 before allowing 2 runs in the sixth inning.
But Ventura also could have been talking about Addison Reed. Much like Quintana, the closer is in his second season with the Sox and off to a solid start.
Reed set a White Sox rookie record with 29 saves in 2012, but he tended to rely too much on the fastball and finished the year with a disconcerting 4.75 ERA.
On Wednesday, Reed pitched a scoreless ninth inning to claim his sixth save in as many chances. The 24-year-old reliever has allowed 1 run on 4 hits in 9 innings.
"Even when I'm going bad, I have full confidence," Reed said. "This is the same as going bad. If I would have blown 6 saves in a row, I would go out there tomorrow with all the confidence in the world. Honestly, it's nice and just try to keep it going."
Like most good closers, Reed throws an above-average fastball. But his slider continues developing into a dominant pitch, and he threw 4 straight to Cleveland's Nick Swisher leading off the ninth inning before getting him out on a fastball fly out.
"I've been feeling really good throwing it," Reed said of the slider. "And I've also got a changeup that's coming around. I didn't throw one today, but I threw a couple the last time out (Saturday against the Twins) when the slider wasn't feeling right."
Adam Dunn was 0-for-1 Wednesday, dropping his batting average to .100.
On the positive side, Dunn drew 3 walks, doubling his season total to 6.
"He wants to get hits," Robin Ventura said. "I think the mixture of that is what you're looking for. Walks are good, but he's also here to hit some homers."
Blake Tekotte, who made a colossal baserunning blunder Monday night and was picked off second base in a tight game against the Indians, made his first start for the White Sox on Wednesday afternoon.
Called up from Class AAA Charlotte late last week when left fielder Dayan Viciedo (oblique) went on the disabled list, Tekotte played center field and batted ninth, going 0-for-2 with 2 strikeouts and a walk.
"Just get him out there," Robin Ventura said. "He hasn't played a lot. I don't like guys coming up just sitting here without getting in there and getting their feet wet. (Tekotte) just getting on the bases (Monday), he was trying to do maybe too much. Once you get him out there you kind of ease their feelings and nerves and whatever it is on the field. Just get him out there and see what he can do."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.