Cooper expects more from young arms

Cooper concerned with depth

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- He's seen enough to know that if the White Sox lose a pitcher in the early going, they might be in trouble.

For pitching coach Don Cooper couldn't point on Tuesday to one pitcher whose last name isn't written onto the Opening Day roster that has impressed him in Spring Training.

Cooper rattled off Mark Buehrle, Javier Vazquez, John Danks, Matt Thornton, Tomo Ohka, Scott Linebrink, Octavio Dotel, Bobby Jenks and a handful of names who have a ticket to Chicago assured. They've done well.

"I'm OK with those guys," Cooper said.

But the young arms, the safety net a ballclub counts on in case of an injury, haven't left Cooper with much to like.

They have been a disappointment, he said.

"Everybody else, all the young guys here, I'm having a tough time thinking about how anybody has shown us the stuff that they have to do here to help us in Chicago," Cooper said as he watched the White Sox stretch before their game with the Texas Rangers.

He said the White Sox might be heading into the season without the kind of pitching depth, the hallmark of the team in past seasons, they'll need when, not if, somebody goes down.

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Cooper didn't know who the team might call on first if that were to happen. He stopped short of singling out names, but the Spring Training statistics, which he said were telling, did more than suggest he had reasons for his concern.

Just look at the Cactus League numbers of some of the young arms, he said:

• Dewon Day: 0-1, 27.00 ERA
• Oneli Perez: 0-0, 29.45
• Carlos Vasquez: 0-1, 14.43
• Wes Whisler: 0-0, 21.60

"They haven't had a good spring," Cooper said. "They haven't shown us the things we need to see for us to feel very comfortable right now."

But he did find solace in the fact that, whatever the shortcomings of these young arms this spring, time in the Minors might fix their problems.

"The good news is they can go down and get things right," said Cooper, who's in his sixth season as White Sox pitching coach. "They can go down and work on what they have to work on and, hopefully, be ready when called upon.

"But, again, our options don't seem to be as many as we had, and sometimes that happens."

Justice B. Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.