Reed, Jones resemble bullpen coach on, off mound
GLENDALE, Ariz. — In 1986, the White Sox called up a tall, lanky, hard-throwing 23-year-old reliever barely out of college.
Bobby Thigpen went on to set a major league mark with 57 saves in 1990, a record that stood the test of time for 18 years.
And now Thigpen is the first-year White Sox bullpen coach who oversees two tall, lanky, hard-throwing relievers not that far removed from college.
The similarities – physical and circumstantial – are eerie despite more than a quarter century difference.
So do Addison Reed and Nate Jones remind Thigpen of himself?
"No, they have better stuff than I did," he said with a laugh. "They throw harder than I did. Maybe I had more movement.
"Obviously, Jones, with the arm he has, he throws a lot harder than I did. He was throwing 97 [mph.] out of the box. I'm probably close [speed-wise] to Reed. My sinker was better than those guys, but they throw stuff I didn't."
That's downright scary stuff there, because Thigpen was as good as it gets for a few years. He's still the White Sox career saves leader with 201, and his single-season record was on the books until the Angels' Francisco Rodriguez surpassed it in 2008 with 62.
Whether they will be as good for as long as Thigpen remains to be seen, but the 24-year-old Reed saved 29 games in his rookie season, and the 27-year-old Jones was 8-0 last season, tying the team rookie record.
Along with lefty Hector Santiago, they give the Sox three of the best young relievers in baseball.
But Reed and Jones are the ones most like their new coach, who succeeded at such a young age because of an I'm-better-than-you mentality.
"I think Reed has the mentality I did, and Jonesie is coming on," said Thigpen, who coached or managed them both in the minor leagues. "He has that good mindset you want.
"Reed was thrown into that role [last year] and he embraced it. Even when I had him in the minor leagues, you could tell he was really locked in. It's something you can't really teach, it's something you can see in a guy.
"Jonesie is learning as he goes, and down the road he has the capability to do that too."
The coach and the two look-alikes seem to have formed a bond, which is necessary during long hours of a long season in cramped bullpens. For sure, Thigpen has two young eager students.
"It's going to be fun to work with him," Reed said. "He sat in that bullpen for all those years, so he's going know exactly what's going through our heads in every situation."
Playing career: Recorded 201 saves from 1986 to 1994. … He set a then major-league record for saves in a season with 57 in 1990. … White Sox all-time leader in saves. … Currently is bullpen coach for team.