Zach Putnam, Jake Petricka try to reclaim White Sox bullpen roles after surgeries

The White Sox bullpen took two hits last season when middle relievers Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam were forced out of action to have surgery. Their absences forced the Sox to turn to a group of inexperienced relievers to try to patch the holes, to varying...

Zach Putnam, Jake Petricka try to reclaim White Sox bullpen roles after surgeries

The White Sox bullpen took two hits last season when middle relievers Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam were forced out of action to have surgery. Their absences forced the Sox to turn to a group of inexperienced relievers to try to patch the holes, to varying degrees of success.

But the right-handers are both back at Camelback Ranch this spring to try to show they’re healthy again and reclaim their roles.

Petricka pitched just eight innings over nine games before he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip in June. He is back to pitching without restrictions and said going to physical therapy twice a week throughout the offseason has kept him “on top of everything.”

“We could have rushed back and been ready to play at the very end of September, but the way the season turned out, it wasn’t work the risk,” Petricka said. “It feels good (to be back). I got that little taste of stepping away, doing a different thing for a little bit. You forget what it’s like to be a part of the locker room and part of a team.”

Photos as the White Sox practice at spring training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.

Putnam posted a 2.30 ERA over 25 appearances last year, but he finally reached a point where he could no longer manage pain caused from bone fragments in his elbow. He had surgery to remove them in August.

“At the point we made the decision, it was not hard because I woke up the morning after my last outing in Boston, and my elbow was swollen up the size of a water balloon,” Putnam said. “I could hardly move my arm, so that was the tipping point for me.”

The surgery meant six months of physical therapy, and he began throwing lightly again in December. He said he has thrown off the mound about 10 times over the last month and threw live batting practice Wednesday, facing hitters on a field for the first time since June 20.

“It’s really nice to have a healthy arm,” Putnam said. “I’m still having a little bit of residual soreness. They took a lot of stuff out of the elbow, so I think it’s the body learning how to operate without that stuff in there for the first time in a while.

“But overall, I’m feeling really good. I seem to be recovering well. That’s the biggest thing, being able to come back the next day and feel good.”

If Petricka and Putnam are back to their old selves, they could have the inside track for bullpen roles behind David Robertson, Nate Jones and Dan Jennings, with a couple of other spots also up in the air.

Caption White Sox second baseman Brett Lawrie on sitting out early spring games

White Sox second baseman Brett Lawrie on sitting out early spring games. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune) 

White Sox second baseman Brett Lawrie on sitting out early spring games. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune) 

Caption White Sox second baseman Brett Lawrie on sitting out early spring games

White Sox second baseman Brett Lawrie on sitting out early spring games. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune) 

White Sox second baseman Brett Lawrie on sitting out early spring games. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune) 

Caption White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon talks about first bullpen

White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon avoids teammate's distracting grunts, talks about first bullpen. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune)

White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon avoids teammate's distracting grunts, talks about first bullpen. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune)

Caption White Sox catcher Zack Collins on his Catcus League debut

White Sox catcher and 2016 draft pick Zack Collins reacts after his Cactus League debut on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune)

White Sox catcher and 2016 draft pick Zack Collins reacts after his Cactus League debut on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune)

Caption Carson Fulmer on pitching two scoreless innings in spring opener

White Sox pitcher Carson Fulmer reacts after throwing two scoreless innings in the team's exhibition opener against the Dodgers on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune)

White Sox pitcher Carson Fulmer reacts after throwing two scoreless innings in the team's exhibition opener against the Dodgers on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune)

Caption White Sox manager Rick Renteria on Brett Lawrie's leg injury

White Sox manager Rick Renteria on Brett Lawrie's leg injury. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune) 

White Sox manager Rick Renteria on Brett Lawrie's leg injury. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune) 

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