Thigpen: White Sox bullpen is best

Addison Reed believes a 40- to 45-save season is possible in 2013. Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire

CHICAGO -- New Chicago White Sox bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen certainly doesn't lack confidence ... or a positive outlook.

Asked about the 2013 bullpen, he didn't mince words.

"How good can the group be?" Thigpen said. "The best in baseball."

At least the White Sox relievers know they have a coach who believes in them.

Of course Thigpen is going to heap praise to the group, especially after taking over as bullpen coach from Juan Nieves, who moved on to become the Boston Red Sox's pitching coach.

But he could have just as easily reduced expectations by saying the group can rank among the best, or they have the potential to do some serious damage. Instead, Thigpen went all the way, and the former single-season record holder in saves (with 57 in 1990) left no need for interpretation.

"We got some young guys and we've got a couple older guys that I think helped them a lot last year, having Matt (Thornton) and Jesse (Crain) there," Thigpen said. "Hopefully I can do my part and help the young guys come along like they should."

One of those youngsters is closer Addison Reed, who will benefit from his first full season under his belt. Reed said he is using the same winter preparation this offseason, starting his throwing program on Jan. 2, but is adding additional cardiovascular training this time to help with stamina over 162 games.

And after saving 29 games in 2012, Reed believes a season of 40-45 saves is reasonable.

"Last year (the goal) was making the team," Reed said. "I still feel like I have to fight for that closer's spot. By no means do I think I have that position on lock. I'll try to get that spot out of spring training and after that just try to get as many saves as possible."

The live arms of guys such as Reed, Nate Jones and the newly acquired Matt Lindstrom go a long way to explaining why Thigpen likes this group so much.

"One of the positives for me, as I look at it, is the fact all those good young arms we got, that I've already had for the past couple, three years as they came up through the organization," said Thigpen, who previously worked as a pitching coach in the White Sox's system. "I've had Nate Jones three of his five years, Hector (Santiago) same thing.

"Addison was different. He took the quick route, but I did have him in one of his stops. And there are some more guys down there that have a chance if they have a great spring training that obviously will put their name further on the list. We've got some arms that can come in and do a good job in Chicago."