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updated: 3/5/2014 9:00 PM

Bullpen situation getting scary for Sox

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  • Matt Lindstrom

      Matt Lindstrom
    Associated Press

  • Possible closer Nate Jones is recovering from a strained glute muscle. He has yet to pitch in a spring training game, although he is set to make his debut Saturday.

      Possible closer Nate Jones is recovering from a strained glute muscle. He has yet to pitch in a spring training game, although he is set to make his debut Saturday.
    Associated Press

 
 

It's not quite the five-alarm variety, but the White Sox' bullpen is becoming a concern.

Already revamped by trades that erased veterans Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton last season and Addison Reed over the winter, the Sox are scrambling with issues on several fronts in spring training.

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Let's start with the injuries.

Nate Jones, who is the leading candidate to replace Reed in the closer's role, has yet to appear in a Cactus League game due to a strained glute muscle. On a positive note, Jones was feeling good enough to throw a bullpen session Wednesday and is scheduled to make his exhibition debut Saturday.

As for closing games, Jones regularly hits 100 mph with his fastball and was dominant in stretches setting up Reed last season while going 4-5 with a 4.15 ERA and striking out 89 in 78 innings.

At SoxFest in late January, the right-hander said he wasn't going to camp expecting to be handed the closer's job.

"As usual, I try not to let it get to me," Jones said. "I go out there and try to attack the hitters. First of all, if you can't throw strikes you won't be in the big leagues for long so that's what I want to do, go out and attack and throw strikes and prove I can do that no matter what role it is, whether it's the fifth (inning), sixth or the closer's job."

Based on his 15 saves with the Marlins in 2009 and 23 saves with the Astros the following year, Matt Lindstrom is another candidate for the ninth inning.

In his first season with the White Sox last year, Lindstrom was a solid middle reliever (2-4, 3.12 ERA) while ranking third in the American League with a career-high 76 appearances.

Instead of competing for any role this spring, Lindstrom has been dealing with a strained left oblique and the right-hander was unable to throw a scheduled bullpen Tuesday.

"I don't know if anyone has had an oblique issue, but it's not that much fun," Lindstrom told reporters. "It feels like somebody is shoving a knife in your side. I don't know if it's a setback, but I want to make sure I'm not feeling anything when I get out there on the mound so I can actually make my pitches."

Ronald Belisario was supposed to be another closer candidate or more likely late-inning workhorse, but the former Dodgers relief pitcher is still not in camp due to a visa issue. On Wednesday, Ventura said Belisario's situation has "gone dark."

Veteran Scott Downs has yet to appear in a Cactus League game, but that's more by design. "He doesn't need a lot," Ventura said of the 37-year-old lefty. "He's a guy who's been around. He knows what he needs, so I wouldn't see him in there for a ton of games, but he'll get enough, probably more in the middle and later in spring."

Other bullpen candidates are left-hander Donnie Veal, right-hander Mitchell Boggs, who split last season between the Cardinals and Rockies and was 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA, and Jake Petricka.

Brian Omogrosso, who pitched in 29 games with the White Sox over the past two seasons, was one of seven players reassigned to minor-league camp Wednesday.

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