Sox’ bullpen boost coming from Daniel Webb, Ronald Belisario
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter March 7, 2014 10:04PM
Updated: March 8, 2014 12:09AM
SURPRISE, Ariz. — The thinned-out White Sox bullpen will get deeper soon. Right-hander Daniel Webb returned to camp after a one-week absence because of a death in his family, and right-hander Ronald Belisario, who had been in Venezuela with visa problems, was said to be on a plane and making his way to camp Friday.
Webb, 24, is considered to be in the mix as a potential closer despite having only 11 1/3 innings of major-league pitching experience after his September call-up. He threw a sideline Thursday and, having thrown off a mound twice while he was away, is set to make his first appearance of the spring Sunday against the Oakland A’s.
‘‘Daniel looked good,’’ pitching coach Don Cooper said. ‘‘It sounded like a bowling ball hitting the glove. He was throwing kind of a heavier ball. He threw well.’’
Belisario, 30, who signed a $3 million contract as a free agent in the offseason but hasn’t been seen, has more experience as a setup man. He has four major-league saves.
Belisario pitched to a 3.97 ERA over 77 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season after a standout season in 2012 when he ranked second in National League appearances and fourth in ground-ball percentage. In 2012, he was 8-1 with a 2.54 ERA over 71 innings, and the Sox view him as an important piece at the back end of their bullpen.
‘‘The rumor is he’s going to be heading here soon,’’ Cooper said. ‘‘And he was also throwing. So when we get him here, that’s a good thing. We can start seeing where he’s at and getting him on track.’’
With Opening Day on March 31 drawing nearer, the pair will be a welcome sight for a bullpen whose progress has been delayed by Nate Jones’ strained gluteus and Matt Lindstrom’s minor left obique strain. Lindstrom is still out.
‘‘All the kids are in town, so it’s good,’’ said manager Robin Ventura, who was growing weary of answering ‘‘Where’s Belisario?’’ questions every day.
From having been there at a similar time in his life as a player, Cooper believes the best thing for Webb after his family’s loss is to keep his mind on work and get him into a game right away.
‘‘The bottom line is, I think, from my experience, when I was occupied, when I was on top of the stuff and focusing on the stuff of my job and my work and trying to do well, it occupied my mind and made me think about the loss less,’’ Cooper said.
Webb climbed through three levels of the minor leagues last year, posting a 1.87 ERA with 10 saves. The Sox are high on his future because of ‘‘his stuff and the way he carried himself,’’ Cooper said. ‘‘Young guy — I just believed that we are going to have another good reliever, not unlike Addison [Reed], Jones, [Hector] Santiago, the young guys we’ve brought along through the system. I think Daniel is looking like one of the next guys because he’s got the stuff.’’