Notes: No doubt Jenks is Sox closer
Guillen says extra-inning thinking made him go to Cotts
CLEVELAND -- Bobby Jenks is entrenched as the White Sox closer and his eight saves in eight opportunities have done nothing to alter this little piece of baseball reality.
But even with Jenks' 99-mph fastball and hard-breaking curve waiting in the bullpen for the ninth inning, the right-hander is not an automatic choice to close out every White Sox victory. Neal Cotts picked up his first Major League save Sunday in Anaheim, and Cotts started the ninth inning, after recording the final out in the eighth, with a three-run lead Monday against the Indians.
With the left-handed Cotts scheduled to face left-handed hitting Travis Hafner, switch-hitter Victor Martinez and left-handed hitting Ben Broussard with the game on the line, manager Ozzie Guillen liked Monday's matchups. Guillen also had only Matt Thornton available after Jenks and wanted to have something in reserve in case the game went extra innings.
"If Jenks [doesn't come through], I only have one guy to play extra innings," Guillen said. "That was my last bullet. I was protecting myself just in case something happened."
Jenks was summoned into action Monday after Cotts allowed the first two Cleveland hitters to reach base in the ninth inning. Before leaving the bullpen, though, he was instructed by bullpen coach Art Kusnyer to simply go after one hitter at a time, regardless of the results.
It's a message Kusnyer saves for Jenks for big situations.
"The last thing I hear before I come in is what he says to me," Jenks said. "It's in my head. It's in there."
There also was no issue for Jenks as to Guillen beginning the ninth with Cotts, or any other reliever, for that matter. Jenks is focused on getting outs, one batter at a time, when called upon.
"If we win, we win. I'm not worrying about being the guy every time," Jenks said. "That's why it's called a staff. Anyone in our bullpen can get the big outs."
Managerial milestone: It's apparent Guillen is not keeping track of his personal numbers as the man in charge of the White Sox, judging by his reaction to a question on picking up his 200th victory as a manager Monday night.
"When'd that happen?" Guillen responded. When told it took place in the series opener with Cleveland, Guillen added, "Watch out, Tony La Russa."
"I think it's great. I didn't even know about it," continued Guillen, after the laughter died down. "I never thought in my career I would get to this point. It's still early in my career. Hopefully I hang around long enough to have more success in my managerial career."
Guillen wouldn't talk about his legacy as a manager in the same breath as La Russa, the Yankees' Joe Torre or Atlanta's Bobby Cox. Not in just his third season, although he led the White Sox to their first World Series title since 1917. Guillen added he wasn't sure how many years he would manage, but that he couldn't really see managing another team other than the White Sox.
"Hopefully, I do this long enough where I don't get tired or be boring," Guillen said. "Well, I'm never going to be boring."
Day of rest: Jim Thome was out of the lineup for Tuesday's afternoon contest, following Monday's marathon victory. Guillen wants to take random opportunities to keep Thome's legs fresh for the long haul.
Guillen also mentioned giving Ross Gload a start at first base during the upcoming homestand, with Paul Konerko moving to designated hitter.
"Paulie doesn't like days off. I have to push him for days off," Guillen said. "But I need to play Gload to give him a couple of good at-bats to keep him sharp. He's not playing at all, and I will find a way.
"We had so many days off in April, it was hard for me to figure out. Now, we are playing a few games together and it will give me a chance to play most of those guys."
More maneuvering: With left-hander C.C. Sabathia on the mound Tuesday, Brian Anderson was back in the lineup -- despite his .149 average and just two hits in his last 23 at-bats. Anderson continues to be outstanding defensively in center field, but Guillen is worried that the outgoing Anderson is losing a little bit of confidence offensively. Tuesday wasn't of great help for Anderson, as he finished 0-for-4, but the rookie still remains somewhat upbeat.
"I would be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated," Anderson said. "Every hitter wants to go out there and get hits every single at-bat. That's not the way it works. Right now, I have to do whatever I can to stay in a positive mindset.
"It's tough right now. This is the biggest challenge of my career, by far. We'll see how it goes, and if I can get back and get something going."
The plan over the next few weeks is to use Rob Mackowiak in center against tough right-handers, with an effort to get Anderson back on target. Guillen stressed once again it's not a platoon situation.
"It seems like he's afraid to [make mistakes]," Guillen said of Anderson. "He feels like he's getting to the point where he's embarrassed or letting people down. Just play; play the game."
Mackowiak pinch-hit for Jermaine Dye in the third inning Tuesday and took over in right field. Dye re-aggravated a sore left calf that sidelined him Monday. Chris Widger also left the game with mild concussion-like symptoms, after being struck in the side of the head by Ron Belliard's backswing in the fifth. Widger stayed in the game and doubled in the top of the sixth before leaving.
Around the horn: Jeff Nelson and the White Sox agreed to terms on a Minor League contract. The veteran right-hander, who is 39, has a 48-44 career record with a 3.41 ERA and 827 strikeouts in 792 career appearances with Seattle, the Yankees and Texas. Nelson will start at extended Spring Training. ... Dissatisfied with the overall bunting by his team during the road trip, Guillen plans on having a pregame practice session before Wednesday's contest with Seattle at U.S. Cellular Field. ... A sixth-inning error on Tadahito Iguchi on Monday was changed to a single for Broussard. ... Third baseman Corey Smith was named the BC Powder Southern League Hitter of the Week for Double-A Birmingham for the period of April 24-30. Smith hit .500 with two home runs and eight RBIs.
Down on the farm: Ryan Sweeney continued his recent offensive upswing with a triple and three RBIs during Charlotte's 6-2 victory at Buffalo on Monday. Tim Redding earned the complete game victory. ... David Cook launched his second home run and drove in two, leading Class A Winston-Salem to a 7-4 victory at Frederick. Jay Marshall pitched a scoreless inning in relief and has not allowed an earned run over 14 2/3 innings, fanning 14 and yielding just seven hits and two walks.
Up next: Amidst the mild cloud of controversy emanating from Venezuela, a return to the mound Wednesday will serve well for Freddy Garcia. The right-hander is in search of his fifth straight win, facing off against Gil Meche and his former team from Seattle. Garcia is 1-3 against Seattle, with a 7.20 ERA, and 12-10 with a 4.84 ERA at U.S. Cellular Field.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.