CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox apparently have a closer, it’s just that they aren’t ready to tell anybody about it just yet.
This spring was supposed to be a battle for back-of-the-bullpen role left vacant when Addison Reed was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom and even Daniel Webb were all in consideration for the job, but none of them were able to start spring training on time.
Jones had a gluteus muscle strain, Lindstrom strained an oblique muscle, and Webb left for a week after the death of his mother.
While nobody dominated upon their return to action, Jones did post a 2.35 ERA in eight Cactus League appearances, Lindstrom had a 3.00 ERA in three outings and Webb managed a 2.57 ERA over seven outings under tough circumstances.
“I do (know), but I'm going to talk to them a little bit later and then they'll find out,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I'm not going to say now.”
Jones, Lindstrom and Webb weren’t the only members of the bullpen that missed time, making it difficult to assess the entire group.
“It was (tough),” Ventura said. “(Ronald Belisario) didn't show up for a while, two guys were hurt -- you didn't really get to see a big bulk of innings out of those guys to really... not have confidence, but have a good assessment of where you want to put them. So now we feel pretty good about it and we know what we're going to do.”
Jones seems the likely candidate to get the role, but even if he doesn’t get it at the start of the season, the hard-thrower would seem to be in line for it eventually.
Opening Day starter Chris Sale said the bullpen might have undergone a makeover this winter, but he has complete confidence in the pitchers backing up the starters.
“I've said it many times before, pretty much every guy down there can get the job done,” Sale said Sunday. “I think all of our righties throw basically 100 mph so it’s kind of a coin flip for any of them with the stuff they feature and their mentalities down there. Some people might think it’s easy, but it’s a pretty tough decision to try to pinpoint one guy.”