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Putz has 'little bit of dead arm,' but elbow just fine
By Scot Gregor | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/30/2010 12:00 AM

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - J.J. Putz said he wasn't feeling so hot Monday, which immediately raised a red flag.

The White Sox' new relief pitcher had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow on June 9 and he has been monitored closer than most this spring.

But the 33-year-old reliever said the elbow is just fine.

"It's nothing other than a little bit of dead arm, which is pretty common for everybody in spring and especially when you're coming off surgery," Putz said. "I kind of expected a little bit of dead period."

As for his elbow, Putz said it's not even an issue.

"It seems solid to me," he said. "I'm not doing anything that I haven't done in the past. I don't feel like I'm restricted in anything. The only thing that's still really to come probably is the velocity, getting to the top end of the velocity."

The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder no longer throws 100 mph like he used to when he was closing for the Seattle Mariners, but Putz is confident he can get back up around 95.

"I think that'll come once I get through this little dead period and when I get throwing in a real game," he said. "The velocity usually climbs with a little adrenaline. I think if I can get up in the mid-90s I'll be happy with that.

"I've been around 92, 93 (mph), which is fine. I know I can do what I need to do at that level, but it's always nice to have that little extra in the tank."

Pitching coach Don Cooper is happy with the way Putz has pitched this spring.

"He's climbing and I've said all along that if we keep him healthy, it's going to be a great pickup for us because maybe we can get him back to where he was in Seattle," Cooper said.

"When you get another guy out there that can close out games, if Bobby (Jenks) pitches two or three days in a row, we have (Putz) as an option and we have Matt Thornton."

Putz had a miserable, injury-shortened 2009 season with the New York Mets. He appeared in just 29 games before having surgery and was 1-4 with a 5.22 ERA. The Sox signed the big right-hander to a one-year, $3 million contract on Dec. 11 and Putz is anxious to get out of camp and back into meaningful action.

"I think I'm more hungry to get back into real game situations than I've ever been," he said. "The competition, you kind of miss that when you're sitting home in August."

The White Sox' starting rotation has gotten most of the attention this spring, and that's just fine with Putz.

"I think this club is built on starting pitching. That's what every championship club is built on," Putz said. "The better our starting rotation is the better our bullpen is going to be because it allows us to match up and get days off, so nobody has to be overused."