White Sox add lefty Sisco to 'pen
Chicago sends versatile veteran Gload to Kansas City
CHICAGO -- With Saturday's acquisition of Andrew Sisco from the Royals in exchange for Ross Gload, the White Sox appeared to add to an already impressive cast of power arms making up their revamped bullpen.
But during a Saturday afternoon conference call, general manager Ken Williams cautioned that appearances can be deceiving in terms of Sisco's future role.
The hard-throwing, 6-foot-10 southpaw started in 65 of his 69 Minor League appearances as part of the Cubs' farm system from 2001-04, posting an 18-20 record, 3.69 ERA and 371 strikeouts over 336 2/3 innings. It's a job Sisco could once again assume in 2007.
Before making any definitive decisions, though, Williams wanted to talk with Sisco himself.
"Right now, without having talked to him, I'm not sure which direction we are going to run with this," said Williams, on whether to use Sisco as part of Triple-A Charlotte's rotation or as the sixth and final piece of the White Sox bullpen. "I want to hear from him as to where he sees himself.
"Does he see himself as a starter down the road, and he certainly has the stuff, or does he see himself in the bullpen as a late-inning guy? In short, we are going to play with this a little bit. It's intriguing on both ends with the possibilities."
Sisco, who turns 24 on Jan. 13, was converted into a reliever when the Royals took him away from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft in Dec. 2004. Sisco posted a 2-5 record with an impressive 3.11 ERA over 67 games in 2005, but he finished 1-3 with a 7.10 ERA during the 2006 campaign for Kansas City.
The big left-hander struck out 52 and walked 40 over 58 1/3 innings last season. He also yielded eight home runs, with left-handed hitters posting a .318 average against him.
Williams knows there is room to work in either role for which Sisco is employed. If Sisco shows a desire to stay in the bullpen for the White Sox, he could be used in middle relief or in a situational role, and then be eased into the late innings with closer Bobby Jenks and setup men Mike MacDougal and Matt Thornton already in place.
If re-joining the starting rotation becomes Sisco's desire, the White Sox certainly are talented and deep enough at the Major League level where Sisco would not have to be rushed. Williams pointed out how Sisco's growth as a starter was stunted after the Royals selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, but he was happy to see Sisco pitch recently as a starter for Mazatlan in the Mexican Winter League.
In seven starts in Mexico, Sisco finished with a 2-3 record and 4.59 ERA.
"I'm very happy he went down to Mazatlan and started games again, so he could get a feel for a lot of his pitches," said Williams of Sisco, who fanned 32 and walked 16 over 33 1/3 innings. "We've all seen the plus ability he has with the fastball and the split-finger.
"We aren't even sure it's a split. It could be a straight change with split action. The breaking ball is inconsistent, but it shows signs of electricity. It's a matter of understanding where he is in the growth process."
Gload, 30, batted .327 with three home runs and 18 RBIs in 77 games with the White Sox in 2006, getting more frequent at-bats down the stretch as an injury substitution for Paul Konerko, Jim Thome and even Jermaine Dye. During three seasons with the White Sox, Gload hit .308 with 10 home runs and 67 RBIs.
The left-handed hitter with the Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base served as one of the more popular and versatile influences in the White Sox clubhouse. Many people within the White Sox system believe Gload could be a .280 to .290 hitter with 80 RBIs potential if he received more consistent at-bats during the season, a change which is apparently on the horizon for Gload in Kansas City.
"I've always believed Ross could play every day," Williams said. "Like I told him, it's bittersweet, because [he has] been a quality player for us. I'm happy for the opportunity he will get with Kansas City, and I hope he doesn't come back and beat us. But I would not be surprised if he gets a key hit for them once we play against them.
"Ross is a quality guy, a quality player. He's a quality teammate, on and off the field."
At the end of the call, Williams hinted another move could be following on Saturday. The White Sox still need to fill a void at backup catcher and could look to fill Gload's role as the backup first baseman. If the team chose to stay within the organization, then left-handed-hitting Casey Rogowski could be an option with his ability to play first and the outfield.
Saturday's primary focus was the acquisition of Sisco. However, that particular focus was quickly shifted to whether Sisco would be an immediate boon as a reliever or of future assistance as a White Sox starter.
"One thing I've learned over the years is that guys have a lot more success if you put them in a position where their heart is and where they believe they will be successful and confident -- whether it be successful in the short term or long term," Williams said. "We think he could help us now if we put him in the bullpen.
"If he wants to pursue starting, then we might have to take a step backwards in order to take two steps forward and afford him a chance to grow in Triple-A in a starting role. But we won't decide until I talk with him."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.