First-year bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen's expectations for White Sox relief pitchers are high.
"How good can the group be? Best in baseball, I think,'' Thigpen said Thursday after making phone calls to fans the day individual game tickets went on sale.
Thigpen, who set a major-league record in 1990 when he saved 57 games for the Sox, takes over for Juan Nieves, who left to become the Red Sox pitching coach. He is familiar with young pitchers such as Addison Reed, Nate Jones and Hector Santiago having coached in the Sox minor-league system.
"Now that they're here, they got to make the adjustments to stay here,'' Thigpen said. "And that's what they'll be looking at this year, to add to what they did last year, along with their stuff, maybe change a few things in order to. Everyone has scouting reports and now they've seen them for a full year and now they have an idea of what they got. Now it's up to them to make an adjustment to give them a different look and keep improving and have another good year."
Reed, who, despite dealing with a virus, took time to help Thigpen, first base coach Daryl Boston, second baseman Gordon Beckham and Bill Melton sell tickets, set a Sox rookie record with 29 saves.
"Forty or 45 saves,'' Reed said. "That's my goal this year. I mean, last year it was making the team. I still feel like I have to fight for that closer's spot. By no means do I think I have that position on lock. I'll try to get that spot out of spring training and after that just try to get as many saves as possible.''
Having veterans such as Jesse Crain and Matt Lindstrom - whose signing is expected to be announced about the time SoxFest activities begin at the Palmer House on Friday -- and left-handers Matt Thornton and Donnie Veal gives the pen a nice mix of youth and experience. And depth, Thigpen said.
"We've got a couple older guys that I think helped them a lot last year, Having Matt and Jesse there,'' Thigpen said. "We're going to look for them to give them that role and then hopefully I can do my part and help the young guys come along like they should.''