Ventura working out late-inning 'pen options

Ventura working out late-inning 'pen options

KANSAS CITY -- With Nate Jones on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained muscle in his left hip, young relievers such as Maikel Cleto and Daniel Webb will get chances to prove their late-inning mettle.

One of those instances arose in the eighth inning of Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Royals, with Alex Gordon on second, two outs and first base open. White Sox manager Robin Ventura chose to go with Cleto to face Salvador Perez, the Royals' hottest hitter, instead of walking Perez and using lefty Scott Downs to face left-handed hitting and hitless Mike Moustakas.

The White Sox know what they have in the established Downs, but they had a chance to get a look at Cleto in a game-changing situation. Perez won this battle with a run-scoring double to left.

"That's all we've got. They're in our 'pen for a reason," Ventura said. "You're going to be able to use them, and so far they've been all right.

"You always like to use certain guys when you're up, certain guys when you're down. But we play a lot of close games, so there's going to be quite a bit of going back and forth of who you're going to use."

There's no set long reliever with the White Sox. And while Downs, Ronald Belisario and closer Matt Lindstrom stand as the prime late-inning options, pitchers such as Cleto and Webb will get continued looks in those situations.

"Again, we wanted to give Robin as many viable late-inning options and guys who have the stuff and makeup to get important outs whenever they arise," general manager Rick Hahn said. "At this point, and I think with any club, you tend to be feeling out for roles early in the season and see how guys match up.

"I think you are going to see Webby get mixed in later in games and see how he takes to that. You still have Belisario and Lindstrom back there, and Nate's absence sort of creates some opportunities for guys to fill the late-inning void when it arises."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for 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.