On board early, Duke applauds White Sox makeover
Hahn discussed future moves with lefty when talking deal; multiple southpaw options a boon
CHICAGO -- Zach Duke just might have a second career in the CIA after he's done setting down opposing hitters in relief. Clearly, he has the ability to keep confidential information confidential.
When the White Sox were pursuing the veteran left-hander, who became the first of this team's eight offseason impact moves via a three-year, $15 million deal, Duke was told by general manager Rick Hahn that Hahn was committed to making the South Siders a contender in the near future. Hahn went as far as to put forth a few offseason targets in his sights.
Those particular names were spoken of by Duke only in general terms during his recent appearance at SoxFest.
"Well, I mean, I'm not going to say specifically who he mentioned," said Duke with a knowing smile. "He said he was targeting some things, and the ones he mentioned to me, he made it happen. He told me that he had a few things that he wanted to accomplish, and everything he told me came true.
"That was music to my ears, because there's nothing more fun than being on a winning baseball team in the summer. I appreciate his honesty and the fact that he said that we haven't been where we wanted to be but we want to get there soon."
The addition of Duke and his 2.45 ERA for the Brewers in '14 has been somewhat overshadowed by each move that followed. The addition of fellow southpaw reliever Dan Jennings and his 1.34 ERA in a trade with the Marlins at the end of the Winter Meetings also got lost in the pickups of Jeff Samardzija and David Robertson. But don't discount these two relievers in the successful presentation that could be the 2015 White Sox.
Eric Surkamp stood out as the most effective left-handed reliever for the White Sox in 2014, finishing strong with a 1.80 ERA in September after coming back from the Minors that same month and being challenged by manager Robin Ventura. The White Sox had trouble finding one season-long, consistent left-handed option, let alone two and maybe three, which they would have in '15 if Carlos Rodon breaks camp out of the bullpen or Surkamp earns a final bullpen slot.
"Most managers will tell you if you have one lefty, it's almost like you don't have any," Duke said. "But if you have two, you are not afraid to throw any of them out there because you know you have another one still available. It's a good situation to have more than one, especially if both are quality."
Duke brings along high clubhouse character -- much like the other new players -- that already has been noticed by existing White Sox teammates. He readily admits not being able to turn down what the White Sox offered, but knowing the team will be competitive becomes an added bonus.
Actually, Duke had a feeling the turnaround was planned for this season before anyone else outside the organization.
"A lot of things are won and lost out in the bullpen, and we've done so much to make the bullpen better," Duke said. "It's a good vibe we've got going on already here. Everybody seems to be on the same page for winning. We have a chance."