It was only 17 days ago that Donnie Veal lost his spot in the White Sox bullpen. An inability to find the strike zone -- especially against lefties -- forced the Sox to option him to Triple-A, with Brian Omogrosso coming up from Charlotte to take his place.
Veal took the bad news well:
@captainomo Congrats buddy!— Donnie Veal (@RealDVeal) May 1, 2013
Just got optioned to triple A Charlotte.Not happy, but definitely motivated.I'll be back in Chicago and even better when I return!— Donnie Veal (@RealDVeal) May 1, 2013
He also made good use of his return to Charlotte, because after four scoreless appearances, the White Sox brought him back into the mix today. Deunte Heath was optioned to Charlotte after Friday's game to make room.
Veal got back to throwing strikes, as his overall line is pretty impressive for a couple of weeks:
But when you drill down into his splits, there's one thing Robin Ventura should probably know:
|vs LHB as LHP||10||5||1||0||0||0||2||.500||.500||.500||0|
|vs RHB as LHP||25||5||1||0||0||2||8||.227||.320||.273||1|
While Veal got back to attacking hitters, he also resumed his tradition of maintaining reverse splits. He saw the same thing happen at Charlotte last year. Lefties didn't really punish him (.242/.356/.258), but they made him work harder than righties did (.195/.290/.227).
That's what makes last year's stunning success against Prince Fielder and friends all the more stunning. But his subsequent performance against lefties, both with the Sox and Knights, suggests that two-month roll was an incredibly enjoyable anomaly.
So as Ventura tries to get Veal back up to speed, I hope he won't pick the same situations that gave Veal problems over the first month. It sounds like he's going to be tempted to:
The Sox had been down to one lefty in the bullpen, Matt Thornton.
"You go through different spots in the game where it becomes important to be able to have them,'' manager Robin Ventura said. "I think even the way we've been using Matty, you can do more than that, but you're saving him for that one tough at-bat against a lefty. Donnie, we've had good reports on him of getting his curve back and it's nice to have him back."
And it's understandable. Veal was so damned good against lefties in 2012 that it's easy to chalk up his lefty problems this season (.600 OBP!) to his sudden strike-zone allergies. But there's a lot of evidence saying he's not cut out for high-leverage LOOGY work, and using Veal in those high-leverage, one-batter situations could continue to backfire. His profile suggests he's more effective in full low-to-medium-leverage innings, and he'd be a better fit for that role in the majors than Heath.
It'd just be nice if the Sox offense could give him some garbage time in order to allow Ventura to test him without risk. Don't hold your breath, though, because these Sox lead the majors in one-run games, making the low-leverage situation more myth than fact this season.