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Reed one of Sox’ few bright spots this season

Chicago White Sox relief pitcher AddisReed left is congratulated by catcher Tyler Flowers after Reed saved 3-1 wover ClevelIndians baseball

Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Addison Reed, left, is congratulated by catcher Tyler Flowers after Reed saved a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Indians in a baseball game Sunday April 14, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

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Updated: October 18, 2013 6:20AM



Even as a teenager, Addison Reed knew he wanted to be a
closer. It came from watching one of the best.

‘‘When I was in high school,
going to Angels games, I always saw Troy Percival running in,’’ said Reed, 24. ‘‘That’s what got it going for me because I lived about 30 minutes from Angels Stadium. In high school, middle school, those were the games I’d go to and watch every day on TV. I was a die-hard Angels fan until I got drafted by the White Sox.’’

The change in allegiance — but not in the goal — came in 2010. And after being a closer for two years in college at San Diego State, the Sox kept Reed on his chosen course.

It only took a little more than a year for him to be called up (September 2011), and Chris Sale’s move to the rotation opened up Reed’s opportunity in 2012. He had 27 saves as a rookie last season and has 37 so far this season.

As badly as things have gone for the Sox this season, their future looks bright when it comes to closing games.

‘‘He has grown,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘There have been times where he’s tired, and you see the maturity of him getting a lot of chances in a row.

‘‘Over the course of the last year he moved into the role, and this year he’s been in there from the start. He probably needs another pitch. He’s been surviving basically on his fastball and slider.
Now he’s mixing in his changeup. That’s gotten better.’’

Sixteen of Reed’s saves have come in one-run games, and he set a White Sox record — and tied the major-league mark set by Eric Gagne in 2003 — when he saved six games in a row in August.

‘‘Last year, I was [throwing] fastball or slider 98 percent of the time,’’ Reed said. ‘‘You can kind of get away with it sometimes, but if you have that third pitch, it’s something else the hitter has to think about. In the offseason and spring training, [the change-
up] is the thing I worked on the most. I’ve used it quite a bit this year. Hopefully, I’ll get to the point where I can throw all three of those in a 3-2 count for strikes 10 times in a row.’’

Mastering the mental part of being a closer is something Reed already has learned.

‘‘That’s the toughest part — tougher than throwing,’’ he said. ‘‘If you go out and blow a save, it’s going to happen. Last year, I thought I did a pretty good job of putting it behind me and forgetting about it. But there were times I’d be home and still thinking about it. At some point, it would ruin my night. The next morning, it was all I was thinking about. I wouldn’t be having fun or enjoying what I had planned to do the next morning.

‘‘This year, if something doesn’t go the way I want it to go or I don’t do as well as I would have liked, I think about it for 10 minutes after the game, then I’m all smiles. Once you realize there’s absolutely nothing you can do after that last out is made, why be depressed about it or think about it? The next day, you’re out there in another save opportunity.

‘‘And that’s what I want. If I do badly, I want to be out there as soon as possible to prove I can do it and prove to myself I can still be out there.’’

Email: tginnetti@suntimes.com

Twitter: @toniginnetti



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