7:33 PM CDT, August 2, 2012
If Addison Reed now appears on your list of White Sox concerns as the division leaders brace themselves for the dog days of August, I understand why.
It's not time to hit the panic button on Reed yet, but after two rocky saves in Minnesota this week, it's not a bad idea to know where that button is located. You may need to press it this weekend as the Sox return home for a series against the big thumping Angels.
This is uncharted water for Reed, a 23-year-old who has shown composure beyond his experience most of the year. Slamming the door on Albert Pujols and Mike Trout would go a long way in boosting Reed's confidence.
On the surface, it doesn't appear the 6-foot-4, 220-pound San Diego State product lacks self esteem. Reed shrugged with a smile after a bumpy ninth inning in the Sox's 3-2 win at Minnesota Wednesday, suggesting he likes to "make it interesting."
"Any time you have a rookie pitcher, you open yourself up to all the things that happen to rookie pitchers," Sox television analyst Steve Stone told me Thursday. "The first time you go through (a full season), you have no experience to draw from. Addison has never been through this at the major league level."
Reed has demonstrated a nasty slider most of the season and appears to have an unflappable demeanor, a prerequisite for his occupation: Major league closer.
Lately, however, Reed has been walking the tight rope too regularly. He allowed a hit and walked a batter in the ninth Wednesday, but hung on for his 18th save in 21 opportunities. It preserved Jake Peavy's ninth victory of the season and gave the Sox their third consecutive series win after being blitzed in Detroit.
In 38 innings, Reed has allowed 35 hits and 13 walks. That 1.26 WHIP is respectable, but one wonders if the rookie can keep churning it out when the collars tighten during a pennant chase.
"The slider is drifting a bit," Stone said. "That's to be expected. This is his first time through it. He has been throwing more changeups and that's not a bad thing because at this time of the year, that arm doesn't have the strength or elasticity as it did a month or six weeks ago."
Precisely why general manager Kenny Williams pulled the trigger on Brett Myers when he acquired the 31-year-old veteran from the Astros two weeks ago. If Reed fades, Robin Ventura has Myers as an option.
According to Stone, the Myers trade might wind up being every bit as important as the deal Williams made for third baseman Kevin Youkilis on June 24.
"(Williams) is always a bit ahead of the situation," Stone said. "That has been a trademark of Kenny's general managership — knowing what might go wrong."
The White Sox will not be sheepish about making the change to Myers if it's necessary. The former starter would receive a sizable pay increase in 2013 if he winds up earning the closer's role.
It's good to have options. Either Reed or Myers has to get the final three outs.
Then the concerns can shift back to the health of Chris Sale, who's scheduled to pitch against the Royals on Tuesday.
Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.
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