The White Sox surprised everyone but themselves when they started 2012 with four rookie relievers. A year later, new bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen, who coached Nate Jones, Hector Santiago and Addison Reed in the minors, expressed great expectations for the bullpen. "How good can this group be? Best in baseball, I think," Thigpen said. "We have some young guys. We have a couple of older guys who helped a lot last year in Matt (Thornton) and Jesse (Crain)." Despite the youth that included a major league-record eight rookie pitchers used July 13 in a victory at Kansas City, the Sox's bullpen posted a 3.75 ERA that ranked eighth in the American League. Thigpen believes the experience of the young relievers will create plenty of competition in spring training. "Donnie Veal came up and did a heck of a job last year and proved himself and got himself on the radar," Thigpen said of the left-hander who posted a 1.38 ERA in 24 games and limited left-handed hitters to three hits in 32 at-bats. "(Manager Robin Ventura) has a tough decision when we get to spring training." Stewart back: Pitcher Zach Stewart returned to the Sox on a waiver claim from the Pirates. Stewart, 26, was 1-4 with an 8.58 ERA in 20 games with the Sox and Red Sox last season. He went to Boston with utility player Brent Lillibridge for infielder Kevin Youkilis on June 24. The Red Sox moved Stewart to the Pirates in November, but the Pirates placed him on waivers Jan. 17. The Sox's 40-man roster now is at 39. Extra innings: The Sox sent a letter to Aguilas of the Dominican Winter League asking the team to curb the workload of reliever Tony Pena Jr. shortly before Aguilas was eliminated from the playoffs. Pena, who was signed to a minor league contract, threw 91 innings at Triple-A Pawtucket and 232/3 innings in the Dominican regular season. … Second baseman Gordon Beckham said his wedding to Brittany Fletcher will occur after the 2013 season.
Thigpen believes young White Sox staff will provide intense competition
Chicago Tribune | Jan 25