05/20/2008 2:15 PM ET
Scott Linebrink: Adjusting to the AL
White Sox setup man enjoying new challenges
Facing different teams with different players is the most difficult adjustment coming to a new league.
Some people might say that isn't as big a challenge since the start of Interleague play, but I think Interleague games just give you a little taste of the other league. The style of baseball in the American League is very different from the National League.
Also, playing Interleague games, you typically only face a team once. If you're a reliever, you might not even face the entire lineup. You have to actually get to know about the hitters when you move to a new league. Luckily, our coaching staff does a great job of getting us the information we need.
The change to a new league has refreshed me a little, too. I think it came at a good time in my career. You can become a little apathetic without realizing it sometimes, and switching teams and leagues is the kind of career event that can get you reinvigorated.
Maybe I was thinking I knew everybody in the NL already? Whatever the case, I've done a lot of work learning about the AL hitters and their tendencies, because I'm new in the league and understood coming here that I had very limited knowledge.
But more and more, you realize that you need to be proactive about learning the hitters every year, even if you aren't switching leagues. Hitters are different every year. Their swings can change.
One constant in the American League is my role with the team. I'm still setting up a closer, and I enjoy pitching at the end of games. I know I might pitch if it's a tie game or a one- or two-run ballgame.
A great thing about playing for the White Sox is that our offense is so strong that I never feel like we're out of a game. Tight games keep me on my toes because that means I have to be ready for the phone to ring in the bullpen.
Bobby Jenks has a totally different pitching style than my former closer in San Diego, Trevor Hoffman, but they both have that same focus and determination. They both make teammates happy that they're on your side.
In San Diego, I enjoyed getting my outs and then watching a future Hall of Famer close the game. It's been equally rewarding to watch Mr. Jenks get those final outs. He definitely has one of the top arms in the league. He's a bulldog who attacks hitters. He can get the job done quickly.
Scott Linebrink split the 2007 season with San Diego and Milwaukee before inking a multi-year contract with the White Sox. Linebrink, a native of Austin, Texas, has a 1.47 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP through his first 19 AL appearances.