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updated: 4/24/2014 7:54 PM

Sox miss Reed's strong closing role

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  • The White Sox' pitching staff has floundered over the first month of the season, particularly the bullpen. Sox relievers have a 5.47 ERA through 23 games, but former closer Addison Reed says the talent is there and it's too early to panic.

      The White Sox' pitching staff has floundered over the first month of the season, particularly the bullpen. Sox relievers have a 5.47 ERA through 23 games, but former closer Addison Reed says the talent is there and it's too early to panic.
    Associated Press


Last season, Gavin Floyd made only 5 starts for the White Sox before having season-ending Tommy John surgery.

In July, reliever Matt Thornton and starter Jake Peavy were traded to the Red Sox and reliever Jesse Crain was traded to the Rays.

Over the winter, valuable starter/reliever Hector Santiago was traded to the Angels and closer Addison Reed was traded to the Diamondbacks.

Less than a month into the current season, ace starter Chris Sale, projected closer Nate Jones and starter Felipe Paulino, who opened the year in the rotation's No. 2 spot, are on the disabled list.

That is a massive amount of turnover, and it helps explains why the Sox' pitching staff has hit so many bumps in the early going.

Heading into Thursday's 7-4 loss at Detroit, the White Sox had the highest ERA (5.08) in the American League.

The Sox' offense, conversely, came in leading the AL with 121 runs scored, Dayan Viciedo (.354) and Alexei Ramirez (.352) were the top two hitters and Jose Abreu was second in home runs (7) and RBI (21).

If the White Sox pitched liked they usually do, there is little doubt they'd have a much better record than 11-12.

Looking ahead, the rotation should be fine. Sale is not at all worried about his flexor strain, and the left-hander is confident he'll be back on the mound in early May. John Danks appears to be fully recovered from 2012 shoulder surgery, Jose Quintana always seems to keep the Sox in games and Erik Johnson is showing promising flashes after stumbling out of the gate.

Then there's the bullpen. It remains a major concern.

Let's submit the White Sox' last two games as evidence.

On Wednesday night, new closer Matt Lindstrom came to face the Tigers in the ninth inning with the Sox holding a 6-4 lead.

Lindstrom, who thrived in a middle relief role last season, gave up a leadoff single to Victor Martinez and J.D Martinez followed with a deep drive to center field that would have cleared any major-league fence except Detroit and Oakland.

Lindstrom walked Austin Jackson and retired Nick Castellanos for the second out before Alex Avila hit a rocket liner at Abreu to end it. It was a shaky save, Lindstrom's third in six tries, to say the least.

On Thursday, the White Sox' offense was back in attack mode, rallying from a 3-run deficit to make it a 5-4 game in the eighth inning.

But the bullpen faltered again, as Maikel Cleto and Daniel Webb combined to allow 4 runs on 6 hits in the final 2 innings.

Through 23 games, Sox relievers have a 5.47 ERA.

You could say Reed would look very good in a White Sox uniform again, but he's closing games for Arizona now.

I caught up with Reed before Thursday's game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and the right-hander said the initial disbelief of being traded has worn off.

"I was definitely shocked," Reed said before pitching a perfect ninth inning against the Cubs to record his fifth save. "Throughout last season, you kind of heard rumors about this guy might go here, we're not playing well, this guy might go over there. I don't pay too much attention to what people say, but you hear it.

"I never once heard anything about me being traded. In my mind, I was like, 'I'm going to be here.' The White Sox drafted me and in my mind, I wanted to stay with them my whole career. I got the phone call and (general manager) Rick (Hahn) told me I was traded. It was definitely a shock, but then it kind of sunk in."

Reed, traded to the Diamondbacks for minor-league third baseman Matt Davidson, keeps tabs on the Sox from afar. When the bullpen came up, he said it's still too early to panic.

"The guys that they have in the bullpen are unbelievable pitchers," Reed said. "Webb, he can throw in the ninth. Lindstrom, he's closed in the past. He's kind of struggling right now but I know he's more than capable of handling it. Nate, he's kind of battling his back right now, but when he's healthy he's one of the best in the game. Anytime a guy's out there throwing 100 (mph), you can't be too comfortable in the box.

"(Jake) Petricka, he's solid in the bullpen, and they went out and got (Ronald) Belisario, (Scott) Downs, Cleto. Those names right there, those are above-average arms. They're just kind of struggling right now but there's no doubt in my mind they're going to figure it out. The thing is, most of those guys were either injured or not in spring training the whole time, so that kind of affects things, too."

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