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Logan's niche more defined

Logan's niche more defined

CLEVELAND -- The fist pump that preceded Boone Logan bounding off the mound in the seventh inning of Monday's loss to Cleveland at Progressive Field certainly was not an attempt by the young left-hander to show up the opposition.

Quite the contrary, in fact.

This motion of excitement and intensity was more about a 23-year-old coming of age as a big leaguer -- even in the first game of a season -- on the latest leg of a journey that began during a Minor League contest on the back fields of the Kino Sports Complex three springs removed.

Monday's reaction showed a connection from the reliever to his team, something Logan struggled to find in 2006, but an important bond that has come far more naturally over the past two seasons.

"When I talked [last spring], I was saying how I was more comfortable," Logan said. "Now, I'm even more comfortable and getting along with everyone. It's a big thing.

"On the mound, I'm the same but a little stronger. I worked out harder in the offseason."

Logan carved out his niche last year as a left-handed specialist, with the southpaw holding those particular hitters to a .221 average. He did nothing to hurt that image Monday, knocking down Grady Sizemore on a called third strike and then striking out Travis Hafner swinging.

Right-handed-hitting Jason Michaels also fell victim to Logan, flying out to left fielder Nick Swisher during his perfect 11-pitch seventh. Logan has talked about working as more than a left-handed specialist since the end of last year, having effectively closed previously for Triple-A Charlotte. He took a step in that direction Monday, even with the presence of Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel to the back end of the Chicago bullpen.

"I need to prove I can get righties out," said Logan, as righties hit .357 off him last season. "Lefties are important, and I won't slack off there. Some of the biggest hitters are lefties, and that's my job. But I want to show they can leave me out for a couple of righties to get to that lefty, if necessary."

"Since we got him, he's grown up every year," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "This kid has a great chance to pretty soon be one of the best out of the bullpen, especially left-handed. We try to put pitchers in the best situation to succeed, but I think this kid will come out to start an inning to get one or two hitters, and I feel pretty comfortable with him in that role."

Although his fastball was clocked as high as 94 mph during Spring Training, Logan believes he currently is throwing in the 90-92 mph range because of a "little dead arm" period. He has every confidence the increased velocity will return.

He also holds a strong feeling that there will be more moments of impact such as Monday's showing, when he held the Indians in check after the White Sox had rallied from a five-run deficit to tie the contest at 7.

"We came back in that game, these guys didn't give up down, 7-2, and I was really proud of the boys -- the way they played the game," Logan said. "I did my part when we were tied, and I got pumped because I knew how much we all wanted to win the game. That was the reason for my excitement."

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

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