With just a week remaining before the season starts, the bullpen sits atop my list of worries as a White Sox fan.
The concern grew Monday when general manager Rick Hahn confirmed right-hander Jake Petricka will start the season on the disabled list with a sore elbow.
"We don't foresee this being a long-term problem," Hahn told ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla. "There's a
decent chance he'll be activated when his 15-day period is up. However,
given the short time between now and Opening Day, it did not make sense
to try to rush and jam an outing or two in and force him on to the
With Petricka down to start the season, I'm still thinking there are two spots open in the Sox bullpen. I'm got David Robertson, Zach Putnam, Zach Duke, Javy Guerra and Dan Jennings as my roster locks.
Neither Matt Albers nor Maikel Cleto have pitched well enough to solidify a spot, but both might make the team now.
However, there are a few other options. Most notably, the Sox claimed Kyle Drabek off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. For what it's worth, Drabek was pitching reasonably well in the Grapefruit League this spring. He had allowed two runs in seven innings with seven strikeouts and three walks.
I figure Drabek, a former first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies (2006), is going to get into a couple Cactus League games before the Sox break camp. If he fares well, he might make the roster and become pitching coach Don Cooper's reclamation project for the year, much like Hector Noesi was last season.
If the Sox decide they don't want Albers or Cleto, they could keep Drabek and bring Scott Carroll north to pitch in a long relief role. I know people are sick of Carroll (1.04 spring ERA), but he's pitched better than Brad Penny this March. He's also pitched better than Cleto and Albers.
Some dude named Arcenio Leon, a 28-year-old career minor leaguer, is still hanging around camp, too. The little-known right-hander hasn't given up a run yet this spring in six innings pitched, so he might be an off-the-grid possibility.
It's a little bit nerve-wracking for Sox fans right now, because I'm looking at all these names and feeling like Robertson and Duke are the only two relievers I can trust. Indeed, it would be a plus if Petricka's injury is just a short-term problem, because he's another guy you can feel pretty good about when he's healthy.