The White Sox are a winner in Will Ohman’s opinion. That, along with them offering a multi-year commitment, is the reason left-hander chose his new team over other suitors.
“I don’t care who you are, it doesn’t matter how much money somebody gives you, if you know at the end of the day that you’re going to come up short, that’s not a great feeling,” Ohman said Tuesday, a day after his two-year, $4-million White Sox deal became official. “You want to win.”
Ohman might be one of the few White Sox relievers heading into the upcoming season who actually knows what will be expected of him. He figures to pitch in the middle innings or become the left-handed specialist once the eighth and ninth innings roll around.
As for his fellow relievers, anything goes. Matt Thornton could be closing one night, then perhaps Jesse Crain will get a crack at the job. Chris Sale could end up with the job full-time by season’s end. Even Sergio Santos could get a crack at it, if he continues to show improvement off his impressive 2010 season.
Relievers are generally creatures of habit, so how does Ohman see things working out when the White Sox will potentially have a different setup man and closer from night to night?
“I think there are two parts to it,” Ohman said. “One, it can increase competitiveness, increase competition in a healthy way, because then you have guys who are pushing each other. Not necessarily to beat somebody per say like at spring training thing, but it’s just guys can end up driving each other to do better. It’s advisable in some scenarios to go with the hot hand.
“At the same time, the flip side to that is down in the bullpen, the knowledge and the understanding of what role you’re going to be expected to play can affect greatly how you prepare. So I think it’s a double-edged sword. But this bullpen, on paper, it looks to be a strong scenario for us moving forward.”
After a whirlwind tour of the major leagues the past three years -- playing in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Florida -- Ohman now returns to Chicago where he began his big-league career with the Cubs.
Over five seasons, from 2002-07, Ohman posted a 4.33 ERA with the Cubs so perhaps Cubs fans are indifferent to his move across town. Then again, this is a former Cub that has switched allegiances, so his return to the North Side for interleague play could get personal.
"I’m sure there will be several people there in attendance that will not be pleased with my return,” he said. “But I’ve always liked that stadium. It’s got a good energy to it, too.”