DENVER — Before the White Sox took the field Monday night against the Rockies at Coors Field, manager Robin Ventura said he needed starting right-hander Felipe Paulino to pitch an extended outing so the team’s bullpen wasn’t worn down early in the three-game interleague series.
Paulino lasted only 41/3 innings, being pulled after he allowed six earned runs on nine hits and walked four. The torch again was passed to the Sox bullpen, which at least was rested after back-to-back long outings from left-handers John Danks (seven innings) and Chris Sale (eight innings).
They couldn’t do much to help, as the Sox offense stalled against right-hander Jordan Lyles in an 8-1 loss to the Rockies.
Ventura said he still is feeling out the best ways to use a bullpen filled with several new and untested options.
Nate Jones’ muscle strain in his left hip last week complicated the Sox’s plans as Jones was one of the club’s top options for late-inning and tight-game situations.
Ventura and general manager Rick Hahn declined to give a specific timetable for when Jones might return from the injury. The Sox have veterans in Matt Lindstrom, Ronald Belisario and Scott Downs, but pitchers such as Daniel Webb and Maikel Cleto also are likely to see some of the action Jones would have.
“It is untested,” Ventura said. “We’ve seen Webb before, last year, but a lot of it, we haven’t had them here all together that long. It is a little bit tricky on who you’re using when and where. We’re still figuring it out.”
Ventura said he is not afraid to use Webb in key situations and said he likes Webb’s confidence and competitiveness. The 24-year-old, who made his major league debut with the Sox last fall and pitched in nine games, has entered in long relief in both of Paulino’s outings.
He started off this season Wednesday with the longest outing he said he has pitched in relief professionally, going 22/3 innings, allowing two hits and one earned run. He said he was sore the next day but otherwise was happy with his outing.
He followed Paulino on Monday with the bases loaded. He allowed a hit and a sacrifice fly in the Rockies’ three-run fifth and gave up a solo home run in the sixth.
Webb didn’t know if he would make the team until the final exhibition game in Birmingham, and he said he will take on any role.
“I’m just happy to be up here,” he said. “I try to get outs, no matter what inning I’m in, whether it’s the fifth or the ninth. It doesn’t matter to me. My job is still the same. It’s to go out there and get outs and put zeros on the board.”
Entering Monday’s game, the Sox bullpen had allowed 11 earned runs over 152/3 innings. But Ventura and Hahn said it’s a little early to make judgments.
“These guys are going out battling,” Ventura said. “I think probably too much is put into it right away. You don’t really want to make a judgment on a guy this early in. We’re confident coming out of spring training these guys are going to eventually do that job.”