If the White Sox are to reach the same lofty heights in 2012, they would do so with quite possibly five rookies in the bullpen and at least one in the starting rotation. Pitching coach Don Cooper believes that ultimate feat can be accomplished even with this first-year scenario.
"Certainly we believe we can do it," Cooper said. "It's a big enough challenge for anybody to go out there and pitch and go through a pennant race and win it, I don't care who you are.
"When you are putting rookies out there, that's fine. But when you are asking them to do even more and elevating their roles, that's when it's more unchartered waters. So, it is what it is. We are not thinking about what we don't have or what we might want. We are thinking about the guys we have and how do you win ballgames? That's what we've been doing all year."
Cooper pointed out that what the White Sox have been doing all year has the team holding a 3 1/2-game lead in the American League Central after Tuesday's results. Of course, growing pains such as what Leyson Septimo endured during the eighth inning of Monday's loss are to be expected, but adding a strong veteran presence such as Jesse Crain from the disabled list to the back of the bullpen could serve as a positive realignment for the White Sox relief cause.
"Right now, if we go to anyone other than Matt [Thornton], it's a rookie in the bullpen," Cooper said. "We've been doing a really good job, to tell you the truth, if you look at it. The number of rookies now is as high as it has been, but we've been dealing with a lot of young kids the whole time.
"There will be moments where they trip and fall. Well, if they fall, we'll pick them back up and help them along. We are going to keep going. To this point, it has got us two games up in first place. Now we will find out can we continue to do it?"