There was a formula established in the World Series run that the Chicago White Sox made in 2005. As the team learned that there can never be enough closers in a bullpen. The year the Sox held up the trophy after winning the Fall Classic, they had gone through two other closers, before finally settling on Bobby Jenks in the final few months of the regular season and into the playoffs.
While Addison Reed is Plan A in spring training and looking ahead to when the games start counting in April, he is not the only option. As a matter of fact, the Sox made it a point to keep the back end of the bullpen strong, just in case the second-year player hits a sophomore slump and needs a safety net.
Not a bad idea, considering some of the growing pains the right-hander went through in his rookie campaign. Reed converted 29 of 33 save opportunities (.880 percentage), which ranked ninth in the American League. The 29 saves, which ranked seventh, were the most ever by a Sox rookie. But it wasn't all pretty.
Reed also had a 4.75 ERA -- ballooned by a 6.20 ERA in non-save situations -- and had flashes of control problems over stretches. That's why the Sox held on to lefty Matt Thornton this offseason, rather than trading him, that's also why Jesse Crain stayed put. And finally, that's also why they signed hard-throwing reliever Matt Lindstrom to a free-agent deal this offseason. Call it insurance.
"That's the great thing about how our bullpen projects," Lindstrom said. "You have Addison with his experience from last year, and everybody down there -- with the exception of (second-year righty) Nate Jones -- has some closing experience. That gives us that much more of an opportunity to be used in any situation."
Thornton has 23 career saves, Crain four, lefty Hector Santiago was the closer at the start of last season and nabbed four saves, while Donnie Veal and Jones are both hard throwers with what the Sox believe to be closer-like stuff. Then there's Lindstrom, who saved five for the Marlins in 2008, 15 more in '09, and then 23 for the Astros in 2010.
"So we're going to mix and match down there," Lindstrom explained of the plan. "We have the arms to get it done. It's exciting for us."
Reed's hope is that the only time he isn't put in to get the final three outs of a game is because he needs a breather. He came into spring camp looking to get more consistent with his fastball location, and has also been working on a new-look change-up to keep hitters off balance.
"I messed around with it in the offseason, trying to get more comfortable with the grip," Reed said. "It seems to be working well. I feel more comfortable with it every time I throw it."
What the unit does know is if they all do their jobs, manager Robin Ventura will have some serious weapons to choose from out of his pen.
"Robin has great stuff down there," Lindstrom added.