TEMPE, Ariz. — Manager Rick Renteria officially named Alex Colome the White Sox’ closer Friday, an expected declaration that brought some clarity to the bullpen configuration. But with Opening Day fast approaching, Renteria remained vague about the rest of his pen.
He said he’s not sure if the Sox will open with seven or eight relievers. Eight seems likely because the Sox have three days off on the schedule, so fifth starter Ervin Santana won’t be needed until April 10.
If it’s eight, a possible group would consist of right-handers Colome, Kelvin Herrera, Nate Jones, Ryan Burr and Dylan Covey and left-handers Jace Fry, Manny Banuelos and Caleb Frare.
Jones, however, has been woefully ineffective with a 12.71 ERA this spring. The Sox picked up his option after an injury-plagued 2018 season.
Asked if Jones’ place in the bullpen is assured, Renteria said, “The downtime last year put him in a situation where we’re trying to clean up his delivery. These next couple of days are going to be important for him. [But] right now, we see him on our roster, absolutely.’’
Jones later would throw a scoreless inning against the Angels, retiring Mike Trout and Albert Pujols on soft grounders after Kole Calhoun doubled off the wall and Justin Upton lined out to left field.
Herrera’s upper-90s velocity hasn’t been seen this spring, and he said he might not be up there for a few weeks yet. He has been effective (two earned runs in 6‰ innings) regardless.
“You can see his velocity is inching up; we’re really happy with where he’s at,’’ Renteria said. “He says he has more; we know he does.”
Santana’s velocity also has been under scrutiny, but it’s climbing closer to the mid-90s norms of his best years.
“I saw 92-93 [on the scoreboard] the other day, so don’t say [90-91],” he said with a smile. “But if you locate your fastball, it doesn’t matter how hard you throw.’’
Colome’s stuff — and his résumé showing 37 and 47 American League saves in 2016 and ’17 — has been fine and worthy of the ninth inning.
“I think it does suit him pretty well,’’ Renteria said. “He’s done a nice job. With Colome, Herrera and Jones in the mix with the other guys we have, they give us a nice bridge. Hopefully, we can put ourselves in a position where we have a nice core of guys leading up to Colome.’’
Colome, 30, had 12 saves and 30 holds with a 3.04 ERA between the Mariners and Rays last season. He made the AL All-Star team with the Rays in 2016 and became the first pitcher in Tampa Bay history to lead the majors in saves in 2017. He has been saying he prefers to pitch the ninth inning.
“I need the adrenaline to get into the game and feel the moment,’’ he said. “It’s different for a reliever when you’re pitching the eighth or you’re pitching the ninth. The adrenaline is different; the emotions are different. For me, that’s the thing that gives me strength.’’
NOTES: Outfielder Brandon Guyer, signed to a minor-league contract Feb. 5 with an invitation to spring training and a chance to earn $1.6 million for making the 40-man roster, was released. Guyer had a sore throwing elbow early in camp and batted .217. The expected arrival of Eloy Jimenez also made Guyer expendable.
*Catcher Welington Castillo (sore lower back) and outfielder Jon Jay (sore hip), the expected leadoff man in most of Renteria’s lineups, took at-bats in a minor-league game. Jay has downplayed the magnitude of the injury, but he hasn’t played in nine days.
“I anticipate they’ll be available for us [Saturday],” Renteria said.
*Infielder Alcides Escobar was signed to a minor-league contract and will be in minor-league camp Monday. Escobar, 32, who spent the last eight seasons with the Royals, is expected to start the season at Class AAA Charlotte.
*Reynaldo Lopez was officially tabbed as the starter for the Sox’ second game, next Saturday in Kansas City. Ivan Nova will likely start the third game, although Renteria didn’t make that official.
*Fourth starter Lucas Giolito’s command problems of last season carried over to the spring. The likely fourth starter has allowed 27 hits and eight walks over 18 1/3 innings. “We want the glove to be hit, wherever it’s thrown,” Renteria said.