Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

Sox closing in on reliever J.J. Putz

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jj-putz1.jpgINDIANAPOLIS - Matt Thornton doesn't start his offseason throwing program until December ends.
Until then, nothing like passing the time by playing recruiter.
According to the White Sox left-hander, the Sox are interested in adding free agent reliever J.J. Putz to the bullpen and it's Thornton's job to try and make the feeling mutual.
"There's no doubt that Kenny has interest in him,'' Thornton said on Tuesday. "[Putz] has been asking me what I think about it, what I think about the Sox. I told him we expect to win. I tell that to anyone that asks me, we expect to win. We prepare to win and if we don't win, well, we're pissed. I told [Putz] that if you're a free agent you want to go to a winner.''
Thornton and Putz have been good buddies since early on in their Seattle days.
"We've known each other for over a decade,'' Thornton said laughing. "It's a bromance.''
And the Sox, specifically general manager Ken Williams, have a history of having their current players try and persuade the opposition to join the club when it's time to get serious. The latest example was Scott Linebrink playing pitchman to Jake Peavy this past season.
It eventually worked, with Peavy waiving his no-trade clause to come to the South Side after initially turning it down earlier in the year.
The one problem is that the market on Putz is clouded. Enough so that Thornton said that Putz is still trying to figure out the value of a hard-throwing right-hander coming off a shortened season that resulted in surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow.
"You just don't know what the market will be,'' Thornton added.
Putz was front and center during last year's Winter Meetings, joining the Mets in a three-way trade. The elbow problems, however, limited him to just 29 1/3 innings. Back in 2006-07, Putz was as dominant a reliever as there was, fanning 186 and walking just 26 while posting a 1.86 ERA.
"If this gets done I need to talk to [the Sox] about some extra money for being the pitch guy,'' Thornton said.
Adding Putz makes a ton of sense for the club on a couple of fronts. It gives them a weapon in the set-up spot just in case Linebrink doesn't bounce back from a dismal second half, and it would also allow them to move a Bobby Jenks if they so choose because of Putz's versatility to close games as well.
Thornton and Putz would give manager Ozzie Guillen interchangeable parts for the eighth and ninth in Jenks' absence, depending on matchups or which reliever is hotter at the moment.
If it was up to Thornton, however, he would like the club to add Putz as well as keep Jenks.
"I think what happened is Bobby set his bar very high for what he did in 2005,'' Thornton said of all the Jenks trade talk this offseason. "To be the closer in the World Series in this city, and then what he did in 2006 and '07 ... this year he slipped up a bit but on his own standards. You look at the numbers in 2009 and they're good for most closers.''
Thornton has spoken to Jenks several times this offseason and said that the right-hander is facing a lot of uncertainty with all the trade talk. At the same time, Thornton said if Jenks is moved and he is pushed into the closer role, he'll embrace it.
"I'm comfortable in that role,'' Thornton added. "I enjoyed that feeling I had knowing that I was going into the ninth, I enjoyed that preparation. I like that routine. I enjoyed that sequence of, 'Hey, we have a lead, that's my inning.' In the same boat, if Bobby comes back right now I have no problem being the guy that gets Bobby the ball. Right now I'm preparing to be the seventh, eighth inning guy, and we'll see what happens.''

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Cowley published on December 8, 2009 5:58 PM.

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