Hendriks, Kimbrel cool with sharing closer's role with White Sox

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The White Sox now have two all-star closers after acquiring Craig Kimbrel in a trade with the Cubs Friday. Kimbrel joins American League saves leader Liam Hendriks, above, at the back of the Sox's bullpen.

    The White Sox now have two all-star closers after acquiring Craig Kimbrel in a trade with the Cubs Friday. Kimbrel joins American League saves leader Liam Hendriks, above, at the back of the Sox's bullpen. Associated Press

  • The White Sox now have two all-star closers after acquiring Craig Kimbrel in a trade with the Cubs Friday. Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth for the Sox on Saturday.

    The White Sox now have two all-star closers after acquiring Craig Kimbrel in a trade with the Cubs Friday. Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth for the Sox on Saturday. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 7/31/2021 11:50 PM

Closer controversies.

They've been a part of baseball since 1969, when Bill Singer relieved Dodgers starter Don Drysdale on Opening Day and recorded the first save in major-league history.

 

The White Sox had a well-known closer controversy in 2005, at least at the start of the season.

Shingo Takatsu opened the year as manager Ozzie Guillen's man in the ninth inning, but his Frisbee-like pitching style was exposed early.

Guillen turned to Dustin Hermanson, who was brilliant in the role until a sore back shut him down in September.

Fortunately, Bobby Jenks was available and the hard-throwing rookie stepped in and stepped right up while helping the Sox blow through the postseason and win the World Series.

There's a new White Sox closer controversy this season, but this one would be welcome by any team in the game.

The root of controversies typically involve closers that can't get the job done.

The Sox's "problem" is they now have two all-stars at the back end of the bullpen.

In his first season on the South Side, Liam Hendriks leads the American League in saves.

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After being acquired in a trade with the Cubs Friday, Saturday was Craig Kimbrel's first day in uniform with the White Sox. The 33-year-old righty was third in the National League in saves and first in WHIP, strikeouts per 9 innings and opponents batting average.

The obvious question is, who is the Sox's closer now?

Hendriks and Kimbrel are going to split the role, and they are both more than happy to share the ninth.

"I'm on board to do whatever I need to do to help this team win," Kimbrel said. "I signed in Chicago, with the Cubs, to be the closer there and I did it for half a season and lost my job and got it back this year. That was something I signed to do there.

"Obviously, there's a great closer here that's been lights out for the last couple years and this year, as well. My job is to come here and do whatever I need to do to help this team win and get to the playoffs. I'm going to be closing games, I'm going to be throwing in the eighth inning, I'm going to be doing whatever I need to do."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hendriks echoed Kimbrel while taking a shot at his unusual delivery.

"I guess they had enough of seeing the sight of the straight arm and wanted to go to the bent arm," Hendriks said. "I'm excited. I'm just waiting for the phone to ring and whenever they call my name, I'll be ready to go and that's what it takes. We have no egos out there.

"There's no one who's going to be (ticked) off on a diminished role or stuff like that. I don't think any of us care. We just want to win. That's what we're going for now."

Kimbrel had no shot at winning with the Cubs this year, making him expendable. Now, he has a realistic chance at winning another World Series ring without having to leave Chicago.

"I'm excited to be a part of this team," Kimbrel said. "Just the guys that are here, the weapons that this ballclub has, it's pretty special. When I found out (Friday), obviously there's been talks for a couple weeks now and just wondering if something was going to go down or not.

"Found out (Friday) afternoon and honestly, my first reaction was that I was excited because I didn't have to move. I didn't have to worry about relocating my family and learning a new routine. Everything on the homefront's going to be the same. That's very exciting and huge. It's going to be a big part of making this transition a lot easier."

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