CHICAGO -- As of pregame Sunday, the White Sox closer had not changed.
Ronald Belisario gave up three runs in the ninth inning Saturday during a game the White Sox lost to the Yankees in 10 innings. But despite Belisario struggling in the role since taking over for an injured Matt Lindstrom on Tuesday, manager Robin Ventura was not about to make a quick switch.
"Right now, Beli is the guy," Ventura said. "If we have it today, he's going back out."
The veteran right-hander illustrates the difference between working in a valuable setup role and being trusted to get outs No. 25, 26 and 27 in a victory. Belisario had not allowed an earned run over his previous 12 appearances, limiting the opposition to a .105 average with 13 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. In the three innings worked as the closer, Belisario has a 15.00 ERA and a .471 batting average against.
Ventura has played with some of the game's great closers in Mariano Rivera, Bobby Thigpen and Eric Gagne in 2003-04 with the Dodgers. He understands the toughness and the finality of the ninth-inning role.
"Oh, absolutely. I've never seen a guy where it's just easy," Ventura said. "More often than not, the tying run usually at least is on base or comes to the plate. That's just the way it is. It becomes tougher. Even hitters, their senses are heightened. The strike zone might be a little tighter. All those things happen and it becomes tougher.
"I don't think it's been any different for any guy. And even though you look at a guy like Mo that went out there calm and cool, there were games that he gave up runs. And he gave up three, just like yesterday. It happens to every single guy that is in that position."
Ventura stressed a commonly espoused theme for successful closers -- short memory and the ability to forget.
"You just have to be able to bounce back and come back out the next time," Ventura said.
"The good thing about baseball is tomorrow we have another game," Belisario said after Saturday's blown save.
Thornton reflects on White Sox tough 2013
CHICAGO -- The reshaping process for the 2014 White Sox and beyond executed by general manager Rick Hahn actually began in 2013, with the first move coming via a trade of Matt Thornton to Boston before the All-Star break. Thornton was back in town this weekend with the Yankees, whom he joined as a free agent this past offseason on a two-year, $7 million deal.
Thornton's '13 season ended on the highest note, winning a World Series title with the Red Sox. But he still remembers the tough times endured by the 99-loss White Sox team, although he was only there for half a season.
"It was one of those runs where everything went wrong," Thornton said. "We pitched one game and didn't hit. If we hit, we didn't pitch. If we hit and pitched, we didn't play defense.
"Bad baserunning, missing cutoff men. It was everything. It was hard to stomach. It really was. It would wear you down and it was exhausting. Instead of finding a way to win, they were finding a way to lose. That's something you can't ever put a finger on in this game. It happens."
That rough '13 showing has turned into an uplifting turnaround through the start of the '14 campaign for the South Siders. Thornton, who was honored by the White Sox with a video tribute Friday for his time in Chicago, is happy to see his friends and former teammates doing well.
"I'm a baseball fan. I love the game of baseball and I watch the game of baseball," Thornton said. "I have a lot of good friends over on that team, too.
"Whenever I can, I'll catch a bit of their games here and there. Definitely an exciting team. You see what [Jose] Abreu has done so far, [Adam] Eaton at the top of the lineup, Alexei [Ramirez] and Dayan [Viciedo] having good years, I'm happy for those guys."
Paulino struggling with command at Triple-A
CHICAGO -- Felipe Paulino's raw stuff hasn't appeared to be a problem since the start of the '14 campaign. But something continues to be missing for the veteran right-handed starter during his injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte.
Placed on the disabled list April 19 with right rotator cuff inflammation, Paulino has a 9.61 ERA over five starts with the Knights. He has yielded 29 hits and walked 16 over 19 2/3 innings and continues to deal with high pitch counts.
"The numbers are poor," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. "He's a guy that I think is probably in the same position John Danks was last year, which is he's healthy, he continues to build up more strength.
"Physically, there's good-enough stuff there, but the command of that stuff isn't there. The efficiency of that stuff isn't there as of yet. We aren't giving up hope, but he just might need a little more time. When you see a guy using 20 to 25 pitches per inning, and after four innings, there's 100 pitches, here or Triple-A, that tells you a whole lot.
"His stuff is there -- 94, 95 mph, that's enough fastball if it's to the glove. The curve is enough if it's to the glove. The changeup is enough if it's to the glove. But he hasn't gotten enough to the glove."
Paulino came into this season having not pitched in a Major League game since June 2012 due to Tommy John surgery and a cyst on his shoulder. The 30-year-old had an 0-2 record with an 11.29 ERA over four starts with the White Sox this season.
White Sox prospect Johnson placed on Triple-A DL
CHICAGO -- Micah Johnson, the No. 3 ranked White Sox prospect, was placed on the disabled list by Triple-A Charlotte with a left hamstring injury.
Johnson, 23, hit .329 with 10 stolen bases and 18 runs scored over 37 games for Double-A Birmingham before being promoted to Charlotte. The second baseman has a .273 average over 10 games for the Knights.
First to third
• Right-handed reliever Frank Francisco declined his outright assignment to Charlotte and declared for free agency.
• Catcher Hector Gimenez, who played 26 games for the White Sox last season, was traded to the Blue Jays' organization. Gimenez has been with Charlotte since the start of the '14 season.
• John Danks' eight scoreless innings Saturday marked the 11th time since 2012 that a White Sox starter worked at least eight scoreless. The White Sox are just 7-4 (.636) in those contests, the worst winning percentage in baseball in such games.
• The White Sox are 4-3 since Abreu went on the disabled list on May 18 with inflammation in his left ankle.