CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox might be a bit thin at starting pitching, especially at the back end of the rotation, but pitching coach Don Cooper has no plans to ask for reinforcements.
After a trio of left-handers in Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks, the White Sox are looking at a group of Erik Johnson, Felipe Paulino, Andre Rienzo, Eric Surkamp and Charlie Leesman to vie for the final two rotation spots.
Then again, the White Sox could scour the free-agent market for a short-term answer, although that idea would be in conflict with their plan to add young talent that can grow as the core of the club develops.
Cooper is well aware there options out there, but he won’t be going into general manager Rick Hahn’s office with a wish list anytime soon.
“I don’t ever ask for anything,” Cooper said at SoxFest this weekend.
He didn’t sound like he would be changing that practice.
That’s not to say that the White Sox don’t ask Cooper his opinion on pitchers outside of the organization from time to time.
“We might have discussions about certain guys, names that come up,” Cooper said. “We might have discussions and I might look at video. I’ve never really cared too much about (asking for reinforcements) to tell you the truth.
“Whatever 12 pitchers get on the plane, we’re going to get the job done with those 12 guys. Now obviously it stems to more than 12. I don’t know what the average would be, how many guys we use. I know to win the championship will take more than 12 guys.”
Cooper also knows that the minimum number of pitchers used beyond the original 12 is also a recipe for success. Despite John Danks undergoing shoulder surgery during the 2012 season, Cooper thinks the ability of the White Sox pitchers to stay healthy has served the team well.
“I know one thing, our starters go to the post every five days and they go out and take the bulk of the game,” Cooper said. “They run the race, man. As a pitching coach I am so lucky to have had those guys over the years because listen, from a coaching standpoint, the players either make you look smart or make you look like you took stupid pills.”
Sure the White Sox lost 99 games last season, but the 3.98 staff ERA was ninth in the American League. To put that into perspective, the White Sox were the only team with a losing record to have a staff ERA under 4.00 and were the only losing team in the top 10 in staff ERA.
Run support was at the top of the issues for the White Sox last season, so when Cooper talked about 2014 he not only talked pitching, he talked about the team’s offense as well. He not only mentioned Avisail Garcia, but Alexei Ramirez and Jose Abreu, he also gave a shout out to new hitting coach Todd Steverson.
Cooper didn’t say it exactly, but it’s clear that a better White Sox offense will make for a better White Sox pitching staff. Or a better offense will at least help to highlight aspects of the pitching staff that might have been overlooked last season.
“There are many things in my mind, and I’m not just drumming them up to be optimistic about,” Cooper said. “And listen, spring is coming up and that’s the time to be optimistic too. Listen, I think we’re looking better for the future and the future could be now, you never know. When we’re not supposed to be good it usually works out pretty well for us.”