Rookie Daniel Webb is a wild-card candidate for White Sox closer
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter February 17, 2014 10:44PM
Updated: February 18, 2014 2:22AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Perhaps the wild card in the White Sox’ closer competition is right-hander Daniel Webb. He’s a rookie with only nine appearances and no save opportunities in the major leagues, but that shouldn’t count against him. The Sox gave the closer role to Hector Santiago under similar circumstances two years ago.
“It’s very nice to hear stuff like that,’’ said Webb, 24, who hails from Paducah, Ky. “I’m not showing up like, ‘I want to get the closer role.’ I just want to make the team, and whatever they want to do with me would be great because I’d be up there playing.’’
As a September call-up, Webb made nine appearances and had a 3.18 ERA in 111/3 innings. His last four outings and five of his last six were scoreless.
A successful climb through three minor-league levels in 2013 earned the call-up. Webb’s ERA was 1.87 in 42 games and 622/3 innings, including a 2.96 ERA at Class AAA Charlotte. Overall, he struck out 78, walked 27 and had 10 saves.
‘‘It just all started to click,’’ Webb said. “It was more of a command thing for me, commanding my offspeed stuff and throwing my secondary pitches for strikes. Not just having the fastball, having more pitches mixed in there, that was the biggest key.’’
The Sox acquired Webb along with righty Myles Jaye from the Blue Jays for Jason Frasor. Manager Robin Ventura liked what he saw when Webb was up last season.
“There’s something about him competitively, just his fire when he’s out there,’’ Ventura said. “He’s not afraid of anything, and he has good stuff. He has a lot of things that people would put him into that [closer] category: velocity, control, the fearlessness he had when he was up last year.’’
The starting rotation
As expected, the Sox are looking at Opening Day starter Chris Sale, No. 2 Jose Quintana, John Danks, Erik Johnson and Felipe Paulino as their starting rotation.
Johnson, a rookie, showed what he needed to late last season to confirm the Sox’ projection that he could be a middle-of-the-rotation starter for years to come.
“He’s penciled in pretty firmly, so if he goes out there and does what he could do, there’s a pretty good chance that he’s got an edge,” pitching coach Don Cooper said Monday.
Infielder Conor Gillaspie arrived at camp four days early Monday. Other position players in camp early include Jose Abreu, Matt Davidson, Marcus Semien and Jordan Danks.