There are no shortage of closer candidates in the White Sox’s bullpen, particularly if Chris Sale begins the year as a reliever, but Scott Merkin of MLB.com calls Matt Thornton the “frontrunner” for ninth-inning duties in Chicago.
Thornton has long been one of the elite setup men in baseball, posting a 3.19 ERA and 349 strikeouts in 311 innings since joining the White Sox in 2006, and saved a career-high eight games last season as the White Sox relied less and less on Bobby Jenks.
In the past manager Ozzie Guillen has shown a willingness to mix and match relievers based on the handedness of the batters at the plate, even in the ninth inning, and the White Sox certainly have enough depth to go that route with Thornton, Chris Sale, and Will Ohman from the left side and Jesse Crain, Sergio Santos, and Tony Pena from the right side.
Aaron Boone has no experience as a coach or a manager at any level. As such, some have speculated that he’d hire a more seasoned hand as his bench coach as he begins his first season as Yankees manager. Someone like, say, Eric Wedge, who was a candidate for the job Boone got and who once managed Boone in Cleveland.
Nope. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, he’s going with Josh Bard.
Bard, 39, was a teammate of Boone’s with the Indians in 2005. He’s not without coaching experience, having spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach, but he’s not that Gene Lamont/Don Zimmer-type we often see in the bench coach role.
Which is fine because different managers want different things from their bench coach. Some are strategy guys, helping with in-game decision making. Others are relationship guys who help managers understand all of the dynamics of the clubhouse while they’re worrying more about lineups and stuff. Others are trust guys, who can serve as the manager’s sounding board, among other things. Some are combinations of all of these things. As Feinsand notes in his story, Boone said at his introductory press conference that he’s looking for this:
“I want smart sitting next to me. I want confidence sitting next to me. I want a guy who can walk out into that room and as I talk about relationships I expect to have with my players, I expect that even to be more so with my coaching staff. Whether that is a guy with all kinds of experience or little experience. I am not concerned about that.”