Jennings ready for any role in White Sox 'pen

Jennings ready for any role in White Sox 'pen

KANSAS CITY -- With none out and Jarrod Dyson, one of the game's fastest runners, on third base in the 13th inning of a tie game on Wednesday night, White Sox reliever Dan Jennings had one thought run through his mind on the Kauffman Stadium mound.

"I was angry at myself for making the pitch I did [to Dyson] on a 0-2 count," said Jennings prior to Thursday's game, speaking of the leadoff triple he gave up and pitched around. "I just remember coming back, I'm trying to back up the base, so I walk right by him and I'm thinking, 'All right, now I got to pitch a little bit.'

"That was the only thought. I have to keep the ball close to home plate, whatever I do. Just make pitches. You can make great pitches and bad stuff happens. If I make good pitches and lose the game, then I can live with it. It's when you make bad pitches and they torch you, that is when you kick yourself."

Jennings made plenty of good pitches after Dyson's drive to left-center. He struck out Drew Butera and Alex Gordon on three pitches each, and then fanned Alcides Escobar in a five-pitch at-bat. Jennings kept the game going with the ultimate outcome on the line.

"He gave up a hit, but after that, I was in here watching every pitch," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "Every single pitch he threw was filthy nasty."

Zach Duke's trade to St. Louis prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline put Jennings as not only the bullpen's primary left-handed reliever, but also the lone southpaw out of the White Sox bullpen. Jennings clearly has earned an expanded late-inning role regardless of left-handed or right-handed hitters at the plate, ranking second among AL relievers with eight double plays induced and seventh with his 1.86 ERA.

Tuesday's contest resulted in Jennings' first career save when he struck out Eric Hosmer. But Jennings remains prepared for anything manager Robin Ventura asks of him, whether it's closing, facing one hitter or working three innings as Jennings did on April 8 against the Indians.

Jennings earns the save

"Robin knows me and knows that I don't really care when I pitch. Basically down 10, up 10, up one, down one," Jennings said. "I kind of take every situation to be the same. My job is to go in there and get outs and keep us in whatever position we are in.

"Pitching in so many different situations throughout my career has given me the ability to do that. One night you might be in down there and the job is to keep you in the game, and suddenly we score four and you did your job. The next night it might be up two and you have to do something else. Robin knows that about me and it's never going to change for me. Just get the ball when I'm given it and go get outs."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.