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Don Cooper doesn’t want the White Sox to mess with Chris Sale

Jan 10, 2011, 7:55 PM EDT

Chris Sale throwing

The White Sox just officially announced a two-year, $4 million contract with left-handed reliever Will Ohman.

When the agreement was initially reported on Saturday, many immediately speculated (including myself) that his addition to the bullpen would push Matt Thornton to the closer role and Chris Sale to the rotation if Jake Peavy isn’t ready for the start of the season after shoulder surgery.

Well, White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper reiterated to Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago over the weekend that he isn’t into that idea.

“I’m not favor of that,” Cooper said, when asked if Sale would be used as a starter until an injured Jake Peavy returned. “It’s unfair and too much to ask of a young guy until he has a chance to get himself situated.”

“If he starts, he starts and starts all year. To start for a month, I don’t like the sound or the feel of that. But I’m speaking for myself only. I haven’t talked to [manager] Ozzie [Guillen] or [general manager] Kenny [Williams] on any of this.”

Sale, who was selected 13th overall last June, made his major league debut last August and posted a 1.93 ERA and 32/10 K/BB ratio over 23 1/3 innings down the stretch. Though the White Sox used him exclusively in relief, the 21-year-old southpaw was drafted as a starting pitcher out of Florida Gulf Cost University. However, with Edwin Jackson, Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and a healthy Peavy, it’s unlikely Sale will be a full-time starter for the club, at least in 2011.

While Cooper is still optimistic that Peavy will be ready for the start of the season, he named Tony Pena, Charlie Leesman and Lucas Harrell as some potential short-term alternatives for the final spot in the rotation.

  1. Jeremiah Graves - Jan 10, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    I’ll never understand this new-age fascination teams have with using stud starters of the future in bullpen roles early in their careers.

    Neftali Feliz currently looks stuck as a closer even though the club would be far better of using him as a starter.

    The Yankees bounced with Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain enough between starting and relief that Hughes wore down badly last season and Chamberlain–although effective–isn’t the dominant stud-horse he once was and he appears to be falling out of favor in New York.

    If a guy has the potential to be a front-line starter, don’t turn him into a bullpen arm and mess up his development. Middle relief should be for failed starters, not young guys working their way up in the game.

    • Mark - Jan 11, 2011 at 7:35 AM

      Pretty sure this started long before Feliz/Hughes/Chamberlain. The Twins did it with Johan and he turned out ok. I’m pretty sure Earl Weaver did this with some of his young pitchers too.

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