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Robertson liking his new surroundings

David Robertson will be the White Sox's closer after signing a four-year, $46M deal in the offseason. AP Photo/Chris Carlson

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- David Robertson is working hard to make a positive impression in his first spring training with the Chicago White Sox. But his razor has taken a leave of absence.

After seven years of clean-shaven wholesomeness in New York, Robertson is embracing his scruffy side in Arizona. When he took the mound against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his Cactus League debut Monday, it was with a noticeable growth of beard.

"This is nice, not to have to shave every three days," Robertson said. "I think it's kind of ridiculous, but that was the Yankees' rule -- they wanted to have you clean-shaven. Here you can just let it grow. Obviously, they don't want me to get it to that point. But I won't let it get out of control."

Robertson parlayed 39 saves with the Yankees last season into a four-year, $46 million free-agent deal with Chicago in December. He joined fellow newcomers Jeff Samardzija, Adam LaRoche and Melky Cabrera to create heightened expectations for the Sox, who finished fourth in the American League Central with a 73-89 record last season and have not reached the postseason since 2008.

Robertson, 29, is not the prototypical dominant or overpowering closer. He stands 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, and he averages a tick under 92 mph on the radar gun with his hardest offerings. But he has a formidable cut fastball and knuckle curve combination, and it helped him amass 96 strikeouts compared to only 23 walks last season in 64 1/3 innings with the Yankees.

Robertson is as low-maintenance and removed from the "diva" school of closing as it gets. He said he hasn't spoken much with White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper this spring, in part because he knows Cooper has more urgent business to address.

"His mind is going in a million different ways right now," Robertson said. "He's trying to figure out who's going to be on the team and who will fit in where, and I try not to bother him too much. I'm going to be one of seven guys in the bullpen, and he doesn't have to worry about me too much.

"I don't need much help. I've been playing this game a while now and I've kind of figured out what works for me and how to best approach it. I'll know when I’m ready."

Robertson senses a more low-key vibe when he enters the White Sox clubhouse and sees five or six reporters each day compared to the "30 or 40" at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Nevertheless, he can feel the anticipation building in response to general manager Rick Hahn's flurry of moves to upgrade the roster.

"I'm here for a reason," Robertson said. "I want to win some ballgames and get back to the postseason. Chicago likes a winner, and I want to be a part of it."

The Chicago bullpen ranked 28th among MLB teams last season in ERA (4.38) and batting average against (.265) and blew 21 saves -- tied for seventh most in the majors. If Robertson can help restore some order late in games, White Sox management won't care how often he shaves.