Ventura lets Sox relievers swing away in BP

Ventura lets Sox relievers swing away in BP

CHICAGO -- There's very little need, if any at all, for an American League reliever to ever swing a bat.

Maybe a 16- or 17-inning contest where the manager runs out of pitchers and hitters, but not many other situations come to mind. Yet, there was the White Sox bullpen taking batting practice at U.S. Cellular Field approximately one hour before regular batting practice began Wednesday.

Was White Sox manager Robin Ventura looking for a secret weapon off the bench? If Ventura was, that weapon wasn't found.

"No. Not a one," said Ventura of finding a hitter among his relievers. "They've been fighting for that all year, so they got to have a little fun today."

The session involving David Robertson, Zach Duke, Dan Jennings, Nate Jones, Jake Petricka and Carlos Rodon, a former reliever who has moved to the starting rotation, basically was a chance for the bullpen to break up the monotony of a long season. They even developed a hitting contest, with Wednesday's starter, John Danks, serving as the umpire.

Robertson, Duke and Rodon seemed to have the best swings, although this judgement was not officially sanctioned or agreed upon by all the participants.

"Oh, come on. I hit a taco out there," said Jones, who cleared the fences, as did Jennings, Robertson and Duke. "Mix it up a little bit, have a little fun, keep us loose. It's something we dream of doing, because we don't get to do it when we play the [National League], because we only throw one inning or so. We all did have some fun. It was a blast."

The White Sox do not have any more regular-season games in NL parks on the schedule this season.

"Duke had a good swing. He hit a ball really far out," Robertson said. "Everybody kind of spread it out, getting base hits. Nobody is really tearing the cover off the ball."

With 374 plate appearances, two career homers and a hit off of Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, Duke had the advantage going into the competition. There was a little worry on Ventura's part in regard to risk of injury for the relievers, but they made it through without any problems.

"You want them to stretch out and make sure they're ready, but you want them to have fun," Ventura said. "They've done it before. When we were playing Interleague games, we had them swing. They can have fun."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.