CHICAGO | The lack of urgency engendered by another White Sox blowout victory Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins gave newly-acquired Brett Myers more opportunities to get acquainted with his teammates.
And just in time. Baseball’s dog days are here.
The Sox bullpen is full of rookies learning their craft. They’ve done well for the most part. But an 11-year veteran like Myers, who closed for the Houston Astros, will provide a lift as the innings and pressure mount.
"We love going out there multiple times a series and multiple times a week," said Sox closer Addison Reed. "But as the season gets a little deeper, I’m sure we’ll want a break here and there ... (to) have another arm there will be awesome.”
Myers provides a veteran’s perspective for rookie Reed, a fellow right-hander learning the nuances of ninth-inning work.
"It’s huge," Reed said. "He’s been around for a long time. Anytime you can get insight from a guy who’s been around and been successful, it’s awesome. If there’s questions, I’ll go and ask him, and I’m sure he’ll be more than willing to help me out.”
Myers, 31, is very fortunate, getting bumped up from last-place with the Astros to first with the Sox, a season after enduring a 56-106 season in Minute Maid Park.
"I just left one of those,” Myers said of a kids-filled bullpen. "But these guys are coming out and doing the job. I think they’re confident in their stuff. Just from talking with them, everybody’s got their feet on the ground and they’re ready to win some ballgames."
Myers can certainly attest to the mindset of a reliever after spending most of his career in the starting rotation.
"It’s more mentality,” he said. "You got to have the right mentality to go out there and pitch an inning. Starting, you’re trying to go deep in the game, and when you’re relieving, you’ve got to come in and get the job done quick.”
White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams knows his young relievers throw hard, harder and hardest, with Reed and Nate Jones not far from a 100 mph top speed. Myers has a decent heater, too, but uses his veteran savvy to change things up.
"Here’s a guy who can add or subtract off his pitches a little bit,” Williams said. "We’ve got a lot of power arms in that bullpen. But I thought we needed a guy who can locate a little bit. Throw a pitch 3-1 in a count, throw a breaking ball, keep someone off-balance.”
A Philadelphia Phillies' first-round pick in 1999, Myers was a decent starter, winning 94 games from 2002 to 2011 in both Philadelphia and Houston. He pitched in two World Series with Philly.
This season, Myers was converted to Astros closer, saving 19 games in 21 opportunities. He’ll be one of Reed’s setup men, for now, with the option of taking over as closer if Reed stumbles in the stretch.
"I don’t like failure,” Myers said. "But this game is based around failure. I don’t like to fail. I like to work hard.”