ATLANTA -- When Jorge Sosa was moved into the starting rotation around this time last year, he found a role that allowed him to enjoy his finest big-league season. Now he's been asked to return to a relief role in the hopes that he'll be able to help the Braves' ailing bullpen.
Before Wednesday night's game against the Blue Jays at Turner Field, Braves manager Bobby Cox said that Sosa will return to the bullpen and be used in the eighth or ninth inning. The veteran right-hander is capable of throwing multiple innings and will likely get a chance to prove himself as the team's closer.
"I' ve got a little bit of experience closing games down in the Dominican [Republic]," Sosa said with Braves third-base coach Fredi Gonzalez serving as his interpreter. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity. I was happy when they put me in the rotation last year, and I'm happy to go into the closer's role."
Since he started on Tuesday night and went six innings, Sosa likely won't be available in a relief role until Saturday or Sunday.
As he customarily does, Cox hasn't named Sosa his closer. The manager never officially handed the role to Ken Ray after Chris Reitsma lost the job about a month ago. But with Ray having shown some recent struggles, Sosa will get some chances to prove himself in the role.
"He's got [the] stuff to do anything," Cox said of Sosa, who is 1-9 with a 5.40 ERA after 14 appearances (13 starts) this season.
There was some thought about moving Sosa into the closer's role during the offseason. Given that he was 10-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 18 starts last year, they opted to keep him in the starting rotation.
But the Braves bullpen, which has posted a 7.20 ERA in the team's past 20 games, is in serious need of help and Sosa may prove to be the answer. He spent time in the Devil Rays' bullpen from 2002-04 and began last year in Atlanta's bullpen.
"My main thing is that I want the team to win some ballgames," Sosa said. "[I'll do] whatever [Cox] wants me to do."
With his lively arm, Sosa could prove to be a valuable closer in a bullpen that has blown 15 of 29 save opportunities. The better control that he's recently displayed gave the Braves more comfort about moving him into a relief role.
Since encountering some April struggles, he's managed to register a 2.6 strikeouts-to-walk ratio. Last year, that ratio was just 1.3.
Sosa has started much better than he's finished in many of his starts this season. He's allowed a first-inning run in just three of his 13 starts. During the opening inning, opponents are hitting just .234 against him.
"We need some help in the eighth and ninth innings," Cox said. "We'll keep our fingers crossed that Jorge can do it."
"Trying to hit him was like trying to drink coffee with a fork." - Willie Stargell on Sandy Koufax