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Petricka trying to get comfortable in bullpen role

Petricka trying to get comfortable in bullpen role


CHICAGO -- It only took five pitches for Jake Petricka to pick up his first career victory in his first career appearance during Thursday night's 4-3 win over the Royals in 12 innings. That effort, which involved inducing an inning-ending double play from Salvador Perez, earned him the game ball, the lineup card and a beer shower that basically ruined his cleats.

Pitching in that game-on-the-line situation stands as part of the learning curve for the second-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, who had been exclusively used as a starter until moving into the bullpen for Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte during the 2013 season. Now, Petricka is being talked about as a potential member of the 2014 White Sox relief crew, although he isn't ready to make such a bold leap.

"I'm just going to try to get comfortable up here and hopefully stick it out," Petricka said. "It's still my first year of relief, and I understand maybe they want more time down in the Minors. We'll just take it as it goes.

"I struggled a little bit at the start. I kind of went into the games in relief still a little around 90-92 [mph] range. I wasn't going at people 100 percent. I had to sit down with the pitching coach [Britt Burns] and manager [Julio Vinas] at Double-A, and they said, 'You need to start going after hitters. You're out there for one inning, it's time to get after them right away.' Once I made that transition, I had some good results."

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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