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White Sox’ Andre Rienzo another Cooper man

Updated: September 12, 2013 6:55AM



Time will tell if the White Sox’ young arms will lead the way to a turnaround next season.

For now, the man in charge of guiding those arms admits this lost year has been wearing.

‘‘It’s probably the most difficult time that I can remember in the White Sox organization in 27 years,’’ pitching coach Don Cooper said. ‘‘That being said, I still enjoy and 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 is tutoring a new rotation of young arms in left-handers Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago and righty Andre Rienzo.

‘‘Rienzo has the package,’’ Cooper said of the first Brazilian-born pitcher in the majors. ‘‘Now we’re looking for more and more strikes with each one of his pitches. He has the package, and we have to mix that package up well.’’

Rienzo, 25, had quality outings in his first two starts, working seven innings without allowing an earned run against the Indians and six innings allowing two runs to the Tigers.

His start Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field wasn’t as sound.

Rienzo worked 51/3 innings, giving up four runs and seven hits — two of them home runs — before the Sox rallied to defeat the Twins 5-4.

He struck out five but walked five.

‘‘That’s bad,’’ Rienzo said of the walks. ‘‘I had better command in the minors, and I hope I get back to the good times.

‘‘Bad games make you work hard for the next time.’’

What the Sox have seen of him — even in a ‘‘bad’’ time — is still encouraging.

‘‘Just by watching him, I think he’s doing a great job,’’ closer Addison Reed said. ‘‘He doesn’t seem like he’s nervous or anything. He’s going after the hitters. I love his energy on the mound.

‘‘He gets pumped up when someone makes a good play. He’s doing well, and I would say he’s pretty comfortable. He just has to keep going out there and getting more experience.’’

Rienzo already is earning the respect of his infielders for trying to work quickly — though the Twins did their best to disrupt that pace in their at-bats.

‘‘I like playing behind him because he works fast, and for the most part, he pounds the zone with strikes,’’ second baseman Gordon Beckham said. ‘‘That’s good. That’s fun to play behind. It keeps the defense on its toes and not on its heels.’’

Manager Robin Ventura likes the fearless attitude from a pitcher who seemed to gain confidence playing for his country in the World Baseball Classic.

‘‘You’d rather have a guy [who attacks the strike zone] than a guy who’s scared to throw it over the plate,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘That’s not to say he’s going to throw it down the middle, but it looks good. He’ll continue to hopefully progress.

‘‘For a guy coming up for the first time, you wish [the walks] weren’t there, but that’s part of learning how to pitch up here.

‘‘There’s going to be some opportunities to [learn] coming up here. You’ve got to let these guys find a way. He got his pitch count up [112]. He might have been a little tired more than anything.

‘‘But I think these guys have to learn to work through some things.’’

Email: tginnetti@suntimes.com

Twitter: @toniginnetti



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