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Sox's bullpen veterans setting the tone

Rookie reliever Nate Jones could have folded up like a tent when Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura asked him to pitch two innings-plus for the second consecutive day on Friday.

Instead of giving in to fatigue, he took the ball and got the job done once again. That type of attitude and performance has been the mantra for this team under Ventura and his staff.

At the beginning of September, veterans like Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton and Brett Myers took the young bullpen pitchers under their wing for the stretch run.

”They talked to us and more importantly never showed any panic mode when things went poorly,” Jones said. “They keep it under control in every situation they were in. That type of approach helps me and the rest of the guys calm down and take a similar approach. When you see them handle things in stride, you follow suit.”

Jones has been rock-solid for the Sox, throwing 22 1/3 scoreless innings over his last 21 appearances. His 8-0 record is the best start by a Sox rookie pitcher in 77 years. The bullpen collectively has been outstanding, keeping the team in games when the starters have failed to get the job done.

“I give the credit to the guys down there,” said Ventura of his veteran relievers. “It’s always better when the message comes from out there, where the guys are doing it. It is one thing when you hear it from a coach. They are getting it from a veteran guy who is doing it, where they can see and practice it then go back out and do it.”

Closer Addison Reed had a bad experience in Minnesota two weeks ago, loading the bases and leaving a save situation without retiring a batter. Instead of gaining a spot in the dog house, Ventura slowly weaned him back into the one-inning save mode. That type of positive reinforcement and veteran support has been twofold in the development of the young bullpen group.

“This type of pennant-pressure pitching experience will help all of us that are going through it for the first time develop,” Reed said. “We have had a lot of help from the older guys and the staff but nothing beats getting the chance to do it and succeeding.”

The bullpen has a 1.55 ERA over the last 15 games.