CHICAGO -- Don Cooper turned 63 on Tuesday, and he approached that birthday with the same high energy and vigor he has shown as the White Sox pitching coach since taking over the position on July 22, 2002.But Cooper has a little extra fire when talking about his outlook for
CHICAGO -- Don Cooper turned 63 on Tuesday, and he approached that birthday with the same high energy and vigor he has shown as the White Sox pitching coach since taking over the position on July 22, 2002.
But Cooper has a little extra fire when talking about his outlook for the 2019 White Sox even before decisions have been reached by premium free agents Manny Machado and/or Bryce Harper, who the club continues to pursue.
• Source: White Sox offer Machado 7-year deal
"Here's what I'm looking for: I'm looking for us to get back," Cooper told MLB.com. "The building is a painful process in many ways, and we all know that last year was the most painful.
"I don't want no more pain. I want to win. I want to win. I want to come to the ballpark and win. It looks like we are getting back; we are in the next stage of the rebuild.
"You know what? [General manager] Rick [Hahn] and [executive vice president] Kenny [Williams] are the architects. We are the construction people. We will carry out the plan when they give us the tools, and the tools have been coming, and hopefully more and more tools head our way."
From a pitching standpoint, Cooper likes the addition of Ivan Nova to the rotation and Kelvin Herrera and Alex Colome to the bullpen. Nova is a solid innings eater behind a healthy Carlos Rodon as well as Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito, two young hurlers coming off the good and bad of their first full big league seasons.
If Herrera and Colome pitch with the same consistency as they have in the past, then the White Sox have the ability to greatly shorten a game when factoring in relief returnees such as Nate Jones, Jace Fry and Juan Minaya.
"We are going to come up with challenges for each guy in their journey, in their path," Cooper said. "I'm looking at stuff for all of them.
"How might we improve on what they are doing? It can be numerous different things that I look at, but everyone will have some. If you are not looking to get better, then what are you doing? I'm certainly happy with those acquisitions so far. I'm hoping there's more."
Hahn spoke during a recent conference call on how seemingly every team has a need for more pitching, although he sounded confident with current in-house fifth-starter options like Manny Banuelos, Dylan Covey and Jordan Stephens. Cooper added a few other young arms into that mix, with Dylan Cease (White Sox No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline) not appearing far off. He also mentioned Carson Fulmer in that fifth starter's mix.
Cooper's view of the team goes beyond the lens of pitching. He spoke of the plethora of top prospects on their way, ranging from Nick Madrigal to Eloy Jimenez to Cease to Michael Kopech. Cooper is waiting like everyone else to hear the news concerning Machado and Harper, but he already believes that the White Sox are on their way up.
• Madrigal set to get back to full baseball mode
"So we have slowly gotten stronger, slowly getting back to where we want to be," Cooper said. "And heck, man, baseball is a funny game. It can take funny bounces. We get a few more people and it could bounce our way this year.
"Last year, we all as coaches came to the ballpark preparing and thinking we were going to win the game and trying like hell, even though obviously we knew we were up against it. That [preparation] is not going to change, but hopefully now [we have] a little more ammunition."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.