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Walks a concern to White Sox pitching coach

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CHICAGO -- The White Sox entered Tuesday's Interleague contest against the Giants leading the Major Leagues with 271 walks issued by their pitchers.

They also sit 27th with 488 strikeouts from their hurlers. Add in a defense that has made the third-most errors in the Majors, and it becomes a little easier to understand why the pitching staff has a 4.37 ERA that ranks 26th overall.

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper doesn't seem too worried about the defense behind his staff or the fact that Chris Sale stands as the team's only strikeout pitcher. But the walks are unacceptable in Cooper's mind.

"Walks [stink] no matter if we are catching every single ball," Cooper said. "It's something we've never led in and I don't like leading in. If you don't throw it over sooner or later, you can't be here.

"You have to throw it over. You can't be putting guys on base, especially in this park. We've known that for 100 years."

Cooper contends that walks stand out as more of an individual statistic than a team-wide problem. For example, Erik Johnson walked 15 over 23 2/3 innings before being optioned to Triple-A Charlotte, and Felipe Paulino walked 12 in 18 1/3 innings before being placed on the disabled list. John Danks leads the team with 32 walks in 82 innings but has issued just six free passes in his last 29 1/3 innings entering Tuesday, while Andre Rienzo has had location issues with 25 walks in 54 innings.

Both Daniel Webb (22 walks) and Jake Petricka (19) have had trouble with free passes in relief, but Cooper doesn't want these young and talented relievers backing off their stuff.

"I want them throwing their best stuff and we'll continue to work on more and more strikes with all of their pitches," Cooper said. "It's not a column I'm happy with, but that's more an individual thing and not a team thing."

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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