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Thigpen: Sox’ bullpen can be best in baseball

Closer AddisReed seals victory Wednesday against Twins. | Genevieve Ross~AP

Closer Addison Reed seals the victory Wednesday against the Twins. | Genevieve Ross~AP

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Updated: February 26, 2013 6:38AM



First-year bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen’s expectations for the White Sox’ relievers are high.

“How good can the group be? Best in baseball, I think,’’ Thigpen said Thursday after making phone calls to fans the day individual game tickets went on sale.

Thigpen, who set a major-league record in 1990 when he saved 57 games for the Sox, takes over for Juan Nieves, who left to become the Red Sox’ pitching coach. Having coached in the Sox’ minor-league system, Thigpen knows Addison Reed, Nate Jones, Hector Santiago and Brian Omogrosso. All were rookies last season.

“Now that they’re here, they got to make the adjustments to stay here,’’ Thigpen said. “Everyone has scouting reports, and they’ve seen them for a full year and have an idea of what they got. It’s up to them to make an adjustment to give them a different look and keep improving.”

Reed set a Sox rookie record with 29 saves.

“Forty or 45 saves, that’s my goal this year,’’ Reed said. “I still feel like I have to fight for that closer’s spot. By no means do I think I have that position on lock.’’

Having veterans Jesse Crain and Matt Lindstrom — whose signing should be announced about the time SoxFest activities get rolling at the Palmer House Hilton on Friday — and lefties Matt Thornton and Donnie Veal gives the pen a blend of youth and experience.

And depth, Thigpen said.

“We’ve got a couple of older guys that I think helped them a lot last year, having Matt and Jesse there,’’ Thigpen said. “We’re going to look for them to give them that role, and then hopefully I can do my part and help the young guys come along like they should.’’

Without adding much offense, the Sox are hanging their hat on the bullpen and what appears to be a solid starting rotation.

NOTES: Gordon Beckham, Addison Reed, first-base coach Daryl Boston and Bill Melton called fans from Sox office cubicles Thursday. They’re also in town for SoxFest, along with a long list of players, past and present. The full schedule of events, seminars and autograph sessions is at whitesox.com/SoxFest. The hotline is (312) 609-1915. Saturday-Sunday passes and Saturday-only and Sunday-only passes are available.

With pitchers and catchers reporting Feb. 12, manager Robin Ventura said he will keep the workloads light early on for some pitchers such as John Danks (shoulder surgery) and Chris Sale.

The Sox will wear 1983 throwback uniforms for Sunday home games. Tony La Russa, who managed the AL West Division champions that year, will attend SoxFest.

Righty Zach Stewart, who was traded with Brent Lillibridge for Kevin Youkilis in June, was claimed on waivers from the Pirates.

Beckham, on last season’s September fade: “We all pressed a little bit at the end. You could see that. It wasn’t a lack of drive; it was too much try.’’



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