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Mitchell Boggs could be another steal in pen for White Sox

Updated: March 18, 2014 6:29AM

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Mitchell Boggs is here with a thankful heart.

He knows the thrill of pitching in a World Series and for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. He knows the satisfaction of pitching with a nice run of sustained success in the big leagues. Boggs also knows the depths of failure, which he experienced shortly after being so good.

In a new uniform, and a new league, Boggs has new life with the White Sox.

“I’m thankful and excited for the opportunity,’’ said Boggs, who turned 30 Saturday on the first day of camp for pitchers and catchers.

Because of his bad season in 2013, in which Boggs was traded from the Cardinals to the Rockies and pitched for two minor-league teams, the Sox were able to sign him to a low-risk, one-year, $1.1 million contract. The deal is contingent on Boggs making the 25-man roster, and the Sox would have control over him through next season.

What’s done is done. Boggs said last season, in which he logged only 23 1/3 major-league innings with an 8.10 ERA, was a lot of things. All of them bad.

“It was disappointing, frustrating, embarrassing. All of that,’’ he said. “It just wasn’t a good year. I was proud that I kept my nose to the ground and kept fighting all the way to the end.’’

Add humbling to the list of adjectives for 2013. Over his first four seasons in St. Louis, his ERA had dropped each year. In 2012, his last full season with the Cardinals, a 2.21 ERA accompanied career bests of 78 appearances, 73 1/3 innings, 58 strikeouts and a 1.08 WHIP.

“Here’s a guy, for three years running or so, [who] was one of the top setup men in the National League,’’ Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “The fact that he was out there and available to come to camp to fight for a spot on the team has some appeal. We’ve done all right over the years bringing in guys with decent pitching upsides and having them work with [pitching coach Don Cooper and the training staff] and get them back on track. We’re optimistic Boggs will be another one.’’

When Boggs was given the closer’s role at the beginning of last season because of an injury to Jason Motte, everything began to unravel. He put more pressure on himself, and when he struggled early with some small mechanical issues, he overcompensated by trying to do too much.

What unfolded was the worst year of his life — Boggs was 0-3 with an 11.08 ERA and three blown saves and a WHIP of 2.45.

He was traded to the Rockies, was sent down to the minors and didn’t recover until September, when five of his seven appearances were scoreless. In nine relief appearances with Colorado, Boggs’ ERA was 3.18. That recovery has him sitting in camp with the Sox with renewed confidence.

“September was a good month for me, ‘’ Boggs said. “If I had a couple more months or 25 more games I probably would have been a lot closer to the guy I expect to be. It was a lesson. I learned some lessons the hard way. But looking back on it, if I take it and use it the right way, it could be one of the best things to happen to me. I’m excited about how I feel and that’s what’s most important.’’

Boggs wasted no time getting back to work this offseason.

“I started my program a little earlier because I knew I needed to make sure the little details that are really important are where they need to be,’’ he said. “I feel like I’m throwing the ball really, really well now and look forward to showing that here early in camp.

“My expectations are as high as they’ve ever been.’’


Twitter: @CST_soxvan

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