White Sox closer David Robertson pacing himself through spring

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David Robertson (right) and pitching coach Don Cooper chat during a spring training workout in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — David Robertson is taking it slow, as usual, as he prepares for his second season with the White Sox.

Robertson, the White Sox second-year closer, threw 25 pitches to hitters on the backfields at Camelback Ranch Saturday and is in no rush to see game action in Cactus League games.

“I don’t know how other [closers] do it but I just try to ease into it,” Robertson said. “Spring is so long, and I need just six or seven outings to be ready. I’d rather keep my arm and body fresh and be ready for later in the season. You might need those few outings back late in the year.”

Robertson, signed to a four-year, $46 million deal as a free agent before the 2015 season, recorded 34 saves while pitching to a 3.41 ERA. He had worked through some forearm soreness last spring, causing a low level of concern in some circles but not to him.

Robertson won’t throw his curveball for a while yet, which he says is par for the course.

“Not till last week or so do I throw a breaking ball in spring,” he said. “It’s a pitch I have a good feel for all the time so there is no sense in wearing them out out there. Save the good ones for the game.”

Cactus League games are a different animal for everyone, especially closers. They often get their inning of work well before the ninth inning.

“It’s hard to simulate a real game in a spring training game,” Robertson said. “It’s two completely different feelings. Your stuff is better in a real game, at least for me it is. It’s all about getting a feel, getting your timing and you get into a real game you know how to do it.

“Every inning I try to treat like a real game situation. Work on attacking hitters and making quick work of them if I can. Last year I couldn’t get an out [during the spring].”

Robertson’s WHIP was a career best 0.932, as were his 1.8 walks per nine innings. He struck out 12.2 batters per nine, but his seven blown saves continue to gnaw at him months later.

“I had a terrible season last year,” he said. “In my mind it was awful. I made too many mental mistakes, I threw too many pitches I needed back. I blew too many games that these starters worked their asses off for and it’s frustrating for me to have such a bad season. I’m better than that, and I hope this year I can turn it around.”

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