Interim manager Cooper thrilled over extension

CHICAGO -- Don Cooper got the call to be manager of the Chicago White Sox for the next two days, but it wasn’t the biggest news he received Tuesday.

A day after Ozzie Guillen was released from his contract to manage the Sox, Cooper agreed to a four-year contract to remain the club’s pitching coach, while first-base coach Harold Baines agreed to a multi-year deal.

No new deals were announced for hitting coach Greg Walker or third-base coach Jeff Cox, who are not expected to return next season.

Cooper, who is finishing his ninth season with the White Sox, has guided the team’s pitchers to a .526 winning percentage over that time (799-720), with a 4.27 ERA. White Sox starters lead the major leagues with 792 quality starts since 2003.

“I feel good,” Cooper said. “I’ve been here for 25 years. I’ve been a blessed guy who has the opportunity for that to continue. I know nowhere else and I think it makes it official -- I’m gonna be here for a while. I’m a lucky guy.”

The 55-year-old Cooper had been the club’s minor-league pitching coordinator since 1997 before he moved to White Sox pitching coach.

On Tuesday, though, he was in dual roles, operating as the pitching coach and the manager in the wake of Guillen’s departure Monday night. It’s a role that he doesn’t necessarily rule out as one that he might want somewhere down the road.

“My passion is pitching,” Cooper said. “That’s all I’ve gone through for the White Sox for 25 years, that’s what it’s all about. I think I could do it. I think I could manage. If I had the right people around me, I think I could do it.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily Xs and Os. I think it’s more managing people, creating an atmosphere, things like that. I do believe I could do it, but again, my passion is pitching and right now I’m the Chicago White Sox pitching coach, who for the next two days, due to a rough day yesterday for everybody with Ozzie going, I’ll do it.”

General manager Kenny Williams said there are a number of things that make the White Sox pitching staff click and Cooper is at the head of the list.

“Well, the pitching has been as consistent over the last decade from the best teams in baseball and that’s a testament to our scouting department, to our player development department, to Don Cooper, directly in his direction,” Williams said. “It’s something that’s well deserved and I’m happy, thrilled to know that he’s going to be on board here for the next four years.”