Juan Minaya savors closer role with White Sox

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Juan Minaya pitches in the ninth inning against the Astros on Sept. 21 in Houston. | Bob Levey/Getty Images

Juan Minaya loves the adrenaline rush that comes with his role as White Sox closer. However, don’t expect to hear him complain if he’s bumped back to a middle-relief role next season.

“I would like to stay [as closer], but I’m not going to say that will be my role,” Minaya said. “I’m a bullpen guy. I’ll pitch whenever they need me.”

Minaya, 27, has converted six of seven save opportunities since inheriting the role, including Friday in the Sox’ 7-6 victory. He has five consecutive scoreless appearances after giving up six runs in his previous three outings.

“I’ve been enjoying it,” Minaya said. “It’s not an easy spot, but I’m going through it. I feel much more comfortable than the first time. You have to be ready mentally and focused on every pitch you’ve got.”

A slew of trades created an opportunity for Minaya to take on a more prominent role. David Robertson had 13 saves before he was traded to the Yankees. Robertson’s successor, Tyler Clippard, had two saves before he was dealt to the Astros.

The experience figures to benefit Minaya regardless of his role next season.

“It will make me better,” he said. “More comfortable.”

Thinking of home

Catcher Geovany Soto was relieved to hear his family was safe after Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico this week. He has been sidelined since May but has remained with the Sox as he recovers from surgery on his right elbow. His wife and three children are with him in Chicago, but his parents and most of his extended family are without power in San Juan.

“They are in good spirits,” Soto said. “But obviously the devastation in Puerto Rico is really significant. . . . It’s a lot of debris in the streets and a lot of power lines down in the middle of roads. A lot of trees, a lot of dangerous spots [where] you don’t know if there’s live lines in electricity.”

Soto typically returns to Puerto Rico for the offseason, but the hurricane likely will alter his plans.

“The best that I can do for now is to try to help them out [by] sending batteries, flashlights, everything I can find,” he said.

Tough business

Sox manager Rick Renteria had encouragement for fellow skipper Brad Ausmus after the Tigers announced Friday he would not be back in 2018.

“Obviously, I know this is the nature of the business,” said Renteria, whom the Cubs fired after one season in 2014 when they decided to hire Joe Maddon. “Sometimes you get let go and things happen.

“I know him personally. I wish him the best, and I’m sure he will land on his feet.”

Follow me on Twitter @tcmusick.


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