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Cooper focused on team, not individual accolades

CHICAGO -- Don Cooper was asked prior to Saturday's game with the Twins about being considered one of Major League Baseball's best pitching coaches. He was asked about his ability to turn good pitchers into great ones and guys who have struggled into competitive forces.

Instead of talking about the pitching staff's accomplishments under his guidance, Cooper focused on the empty feeling brought about by the struggles of the White Sox overall.

"It's hard to feel smart right now," Cooper said. "When we're in the midst of what we're going through, I certainly don't walk home saying 'Boy, I feel fantastic about how things are going.' But we're keeping our eyes focused on the things we need to do individually.

"Listen, I don't rank myself. I want to be the best coach the White Sox have. That's all, the best pitching coach the White Sox have. I don't sit and compare. I don't sit there and look at this or that in other organizations.

"You know you're doing a good job if you keep getting contracts, and I keep getting contracts," Cooper said. "I will say this: It's probably the most difficult time that I can remember in the White Sox organization in 27 years. That being said, I still enjoy, look forward to, coming to the park to do our jobs, my job as the pitching coach and the jobs of the pitchers and the challenges we're throwing at them to get better."

Cooper gave credit to the pitchers themselves for what they have accomplished and proceeded to talk about the staff's young arms: Addison Reed, Nate Jones, Hector Santiago, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Friday starter Charlie Leesman and Saturday starter Andre Rienzo. He gave a brief look into next year's rotation, saying that if the season ended Saturday, four starters would be set, and there would be competition for the fifth spot that would probably include Rienzo and Erik Johnson.

Of course, that formula could change if Santiago moves back into a relief role.

"That's nice to know that we've got some pitching coming along if we need it," Cooper said. "But heck, our starters are kind of locked in pretty good."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
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