Relief corps showing signs of working into shape
DETROIT -- The White Sox bullpen is slowly but surely coming together.
The relief crew threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings over the last two games entering Tuesday night, and the White Sox are starting to know what they have. It was a process they weren't completely afforded in Arizona during February and March.
Ronald Belisario had his Spring Training arrival delayed because of visa issues coming from Venezuela. Daniel Webb missed time because of the passing of his mother. Nate Jones had injury issues that have carried over to the regular season. Jake Petricka wasn't even part of the Opening Day roster.
"We are getting to see them more," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "Nate is still a missing man. So, we've had to do some stuff and try some stuff and look at some stuff.
"What we were looking at early, the stuff that was happening, it was more self-inflicted: the walks and the falling behind. If we can lick that part, I think we'll be well on our way to getting where we want to go."
Cooper understands that the bullpen has been the target of early criticism, with its 5.48 ERA and 43 walks issued. He also knows that this particular group will need defensive support to help it succeed.
"We've got a bunch of ground-ball, contact guys. Certainly, we are reliant on our defense in that situation," Cooper said. "There's not a lot of strikeout guys. They can get strikeouts, but they aren't going to be a strikeout-an-inning guy, to a large degree most of them.
"I'm seeing more ground balls with [Belisario], with Petricka. We are not quite there, but we are hopefully heading in that direction."