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Bullpen versatility a major benefit for Sox

Bullpen versatility a major benefit for Sox

CHICAGO -- Hector Santiago threw 48 pitches over three innings of relief in Thursday afternoon's loss to the Royals. Matt Lindstrom's middle work out of the bullpen covered 2 1/3 innings behind starter Jose Quintana on Friday night against Seattle.

But the most interesting thing about the White Sox' bullpen is that the next time these two hurlers take the mound, they could be working in a late-inning situation. Pure talent helped the relief crew work 12 1/3 scoreless innings to start the season, but the versatility of the seven relievers gives manager Robin Ventura plenty of options on any given night.

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"One day, I can be the long guy. The next day, I can come back and face the lefty and have a day off, and be in the ninth inning and finish the game," Santiago said. "Addison [Reed] has his role and Matt [Thornton] has his role. Everybody has their role, but anybody can throw any time in any game."

"Even Hector being our long guy can go out there and be a setup man or even closer," Thornton said. "We have a lot of versatility out there, and a lot of opportunities for guys that can go out in any situation and pick the team up. We all go down there and are ready to go from the get-go."

Prior to Nate Jones giving up two runs in his second inning of work Friday night, the bullpen had thrown five hitless innings from the fifth to the ninth against the Mariners. First batters are hitless in nine at-bats against White Sox relievers and all 10 inherited runners had been stranded until the eighth inning of Saturday's 4-3 win.

Having this deep bullpen shortens the game for a starter, meaning the relievers can pick up someone such as Quintana, who struggled on Friday, or a pitcher such as Jake Peavy, who can go all out in his last inning knowing he has quality help behind him. Reed clearly has the closer's role and some mix of Thornton, Jones and Jesse Crain work as setup men.

Lindstrom, Santiago and Donnie Veal also can pitch anywhere from the fifth to the ninth, depending on the situation.

"This is definitely a really good group of guys," Thornton said.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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