Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

March 2011 Archives

Opening Day roster

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Here is the White Sox Opening Day roster:

Eleven pitchers: Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Edwin Jackson, Phil Humber, Matt Thornton, Sergio Santos, Jesse Crain, Chris Sale, Will Ohman, Tony Pena.

Two catchers: A.J. Pierzynski, Ramon Castro.

Eight infielders: Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, Brent Morel, Mark Teahen, Omar Vizquel, Brent Lillibridge.

Four outfielders: Lastings Milledge, Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin.

The roster was made official with no unexpected developments. Jake Peavy and outfielder-corner infielder Dayan Viciedo were placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 22.

Right-hander Jeff Marquez cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA Charlotte.

Sale good to go; Peavy on schedule

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Chris Sale threw batting practice Wednesday before the White Sox played at their Class A affiliate, the Winston-Salem Dash, and said his neck felt much better.

Sale is expected to be at full strength when the Sox open their season in Cleveland on Friday.

The left-hander had been held back by spasms on the left side of his neck on Monday and Tuesday.

Also, Jake Peavy said he felt good the day after throwing 45 minutes in a minor league scrimmage on Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz. A White Sox spokesperson said Peavy, who has been dealing with rotator cuff tendinitis, experienced no residuals from the outing and that he remains on schedule.

He plans to pitch again on Sunday at extended spring training.

A happy, sad day for Peavy; rehab starts planned

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - Jake Peavy looked remarkably sharp during a 45-pitch stint on the back fields at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday morning. And he said he felt good, too.

The White Sox right-hander retired all 13 batters he faced, including Carlos Quentin four times -- the first time on a three-pitch strikeout -- and Ramon Castro once. The other batters he faced were minor-league players.

Peavy, who mixed in a fair share of breaking pitches, struck out the first two batters and three of the first four, and started his outing with eight consecutive strikes. It was his first mound appearance since he was sidelined by rotator cuff tendinitis after throwing 83 pitches in a Cactus League game against the Oakland A's on March 19.

A side session on Sunday, followed by rehab starts on April 8 (75 pitches) and April 13 (90 pitches) at AA Birmingham or AAA Charlotte are planned, Peavy said. He added that he won't be with the team for the home opener as he had hoped on April 7 to "cheer the boys on.''

"I felt OK, I really did,'' Peavy said. "Here we go again. We tried it before, hopefully we can sustain it this time.

"With all of the treatment and the shoulder being through this one time it should be able to taxi that load a little better.''

Peavy throws off mound; to stay in Arizona

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - After throwing off a mound for the first time since throwing 83 pitches against the Oakland A's eight days ago, Jake Peavy said his shoulder felt OK and prepared himself for extended spring training.
Peavy (rotator cuff tendinitis) threw about 35 pitches Sunday morning, most of them from the stretch, and mixed in some breaking balls as pitching coach Don Cooper, manager Ozzie Guillen and other coaching staff watched.
Peavy will be with the team for the home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 7 "to cheer the boys on" and to reconnect with Cooper. He would make three or four rehab appearances after that before joining the team if all goes well.
"I know I'm going to stay here with the extended spring bunch," Peavy said. "Coop, I know, wants me with the team and working with him, but through this first week with all the day games, and the weather being so nice out here, it doesn't make much sense to go with the team just yet.
"So I want to stay here at least for a week or so and get a few side sessions in a game or two, or some simulated work, before I get back with the team. And obviously I'll probably leave the team and do a few rehab stints before I get back with the team."
Cooper gave Peavy a fist-bump and was in a good mood after Peavy's session.
"One thing Jake can do, it's like he doesn't pick up a ball for seven, eight or nine days and he can go out there and flip his stuff over,'' Cooper said. "He has tremendous touch and feel. More important than anything else, he felt good today.''
Phil Humber will take Peavy's place in the rotation, although Opening Day starter Mark Buehrle could jump into the fifth spot on four days rest because of an off day.
"We'll certainly have Humber ready to start, but if not, we can bring Buehrle back,'' Cooper said. "That stuff all will be discussed.''

Morning Cup of Joe

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la_a_ely01_300.jpgMINNEAPOLIS - The Dodgers may have set their organization back 10-20 years over the weekend by sending pitching savant John Ely down. Just like the Sox cost themselves a World Series last season without the power of Ely in the rotation, expect bad things to now happen in Tinseltown. Nobody, and I do mean nobody, wins without Ely.

--Daniel Hudson has a 4.24 ERA in Cactus League play, but scouts I've whispered to from my basement said the Sox are telling opposing teams what Hudson's throwing.

Peavy: Too much, too soon

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jake Peavy knows his chances of making the opening-day roster fall somewhere between slim and none.

Probably much closer to none. He finally acknowledged that on Friday.

The White Sox right-hander remains optimistic as always, however, about the possibility of pitching at a high level this season. That would more than likely not happen before May 1, however.

"Obviously, I think at this point in time to start the season doesn't look very promising,'' said Peavy, whose comeback from surgery to reattach a torn lat was temporarily derailed by rotator cuff tendinitis.

The Sox are already planning on Phil Humber to start the fifth game of the season in Peavy's spot on April 6 in Kansas City.

Peavy played catch on Friday, plans to play again today and wants to throw 30-40 pitches off a mound on Sunday "and see if we can get back to where we were,'' he said.

"We obviously think we did a little too much, too soon and the shoulder wasn't ready to respond like we wanted it to,'' Peavy said. "There certainly is nothing structurally wrong or nothing like that. They told me that was going to be the hardest thing, to pitch and bounce back and do it again.

"We didn't have any setbacks until we got on the mound and started pitching in those games and trying to get healthy enough to do it every five days. So hopefully Sunday goes well and we'll get in a game at some point in time and get in a game five days later and keep climbing and get back to where we want to be."

Peavy repeated on Friday that he won't pitch for the Sox until he is "normal."

"I don't want to have to go out there ... just trying to get through it. I'm done with that phase,'' Peavy said. "I want to get on the mound in Chicago. I expect to feel like everything is normal. I promised [general manager] Kenny [Williams] and those guys I wouldn't get out there unless that was the case."

It's official: Morel is starting third baseman

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MESA, Ariz. -- Ozzie Guillen finally made it official on Thursday, saying rookie Brent Morel will be the White Sox starting third baseman when the team breaks camp next week.

Mark Teahen, as expected, will be used in a utility role.

"Morel made the team and I think he will play every day at third base,'' Guillen said before the White Sox played the Cubs. "I haven't talked to Teahen directly but he will be here for his offense.

"We expect him to do the best he can. For [Morel] to make the ballclub he has to play every day. We have a better ballclub that way. Teahen will get at-bats.''

Guillen also said that Phil Humber, who started against the Cubs, will be the fifth starter in Jake Peavy's place unless Jeff Marquez proves to be a better option.

Guillen is not counting on Peavy (rotator cuff tendinitis) to make the Opening Day roster.

"When Peavy is ready I will be more than happy and excited and satisfied to pencil him in,'' Guillen said.

GM Williams encouraged by Peavy report

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Daryl Van Schouwen
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- General manager Ken Williams was encouraged by medical reports on Jake Peavy Wednesday, so much so that he doesn't plan to rein in the White Sox' most expensive pitcher.

"One of the reasons we went out to get Jake Peavy is because he has that attitude,'' Williams said. "When you say 'bulldog,' that's who you are talking about.''

Peavy will continue to take anti-inflammatory medication for tendinitis in his right rotator cuff and plans to pitch on the side Saturday or Sunday.

"He is going to exhuaust himself to get back out there,'' said Williams, who was encouraged by an examination from Anthony Romero, the surgeon who reattached Peavy's torn lat in July. "We're not surprised where we are right now. And I continue to be surprised that we have the opportunity to get him out there a lot sooner than we wanted.''

Peavy plays catch; shoulder 'feels better'

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jake Peavy played catch on Tuesday and said he is encouraged about the way his right rotator cuff has responded to treatment.

"I felt quite a bit better than I did a few days ago," Peavy said, "so I was excited that things are certainly calming down.

"To see it in just a couple days make a drastic improvement is very encouraging.''

Peavy tossed the ball about 35-40 feet for about five minutes with coach Juan Nieves. He said he plans to play catch again on Wednesday, including stretching it out with long toss and "push it as far as we can without pushing it.''

A day after throwing 83 pitches in his fourth start on Sunday and looking like a near sure-thing to make the opening-day roster, Peavy revealed that he had tendinitis in the rotator cuff. He received treatment and took the anti-inflammatory Celebrex.

Peavy said he won't pitch in a game until he is completely healthy.

"When I take the mound I will be as healthy as I can possibly be,'' he said. "I don't know that means and not making any predictions about what will happen but I will go out there 100 percent healthy.''

Peavy said he'll play catch today as long as he feels well enough. He expects that to be the case. He hopes to possibly throw off a mound at the end of the week.

Phil Humber is taking Peavy's turn in the rotation Thursday against the Cubs and is slated to start the fifth game of the regular season in Kansas City on April 6.

Cuts leave Marquez in position to make team

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Jeff Marquez has a good chance to make the opening-day roster, especially if the White Sox open the season with 12 pitchers.

The Sox made nine roster moves Tuesday, including the re-assignments to minor league camp of right-handers Brian Bruney, Josh Kinney, Jeff Gray and Shane Lindsay and optioning right-hander Gregory Infante to AAA Charlotte.

The most significant move involving a postion player was outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who was moved to Charlotte. De Aza was in competition for an extra outfielder's spot with Lastings Milledge and Brent Lillibridge, although he was never considered a favorite in that race.

12-man staff likely; Humber steps in

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phil Humber, who after signing a minor-league free agent deal in December found a good pitching groove this spring, will fill the void left by Jake Peavy and likely be one of 12 pitchers on the White Sox' opening-day roster.

Humber will get Thursday's start against the Cubs, pitching coach Don Cooper said Sunday night, and is the likely fifth starter penciled in for April 6 in Kansas City.

"We're going to have him ready to start if necessary during the season until Jake is ready," Cooper said on 670-AM's "Mully and Hanley Show" Monday morning. "Because of that we'll probably look into taking 12 [pitchers]. Sounds like a good idea to me because we're going to need that 12th guy."

Setback for Peavy: Rotator cuff tendinitis

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jake Peavy has shoulder tendinitis and will shut down from his normal routine the next couple of days.

Peavy, making a comeback from a torn lat near his throwing shoulder, said Sunday morning that he hopes to make his scheduled start Thursday against the Cubs, but that is highly unlikely. The White Sox have allowed their highest-paid player and a key piece to their starting rotation to go full steam ahead this spring, but this is his first setback.

"I'm not going to say it's a setback because we don't know what it is yet," Peavy said. "But certainly things have slowed down."

Sale takes it in stride, makes adjustments

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale was probably the least surprised guy in the White Sox clubhouse to hear that manager Ozzie Guillen named fellow left-hander Matt Thornton as the closer to begin the season.

"He's the right guy for the job,'' Sale said Sunday. "Oh yeah. And he's been good for a long time and obviously he's shown it this spring, too.

"My job now is to get the ball to him. If I can get him the ball we will be in a good spot.''

Ozzie: Thornton to close

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PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Matt Thornton will break camp as the White Sox's primary closer, manager Ozzie Guillen said after Saturday's Cactus League game against the Oakland A's.
Thornton and rookie Chris Sale, also a left-hander, were considered the top two contenders to take over the role vacated by the departure of Bobby Jenks. Sale was 4-for-4 in save opportunites late last season but has struggled with his command this spring.
Thornton, who signed a contract extension earlier this month, saved eight games last year and is 17-for-18 lifetime in ninth-inning save opportunities. He made the American League All-Star team as a setup man in 2010.
"I think with Sale we would be putting a lot on his shoulders,'' Guillen said. "I think Matt Thornton earned it, we have a lot of confidence in him and I think he can do the job better.''
Guillen also said Jake Peavy would likely break camp with the team as its fifth starter.

Peavy likely to make opening-day roster

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PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Jake Peavy shook off lingering issues from the stomach flu and pitched 5 2/3 innings on Saturday, allowing three runs on seven hits in the White Sox' 8-3 Cactus League loss to the Oakland A's.

His latest performance was enough to convince manager Ozzie Guillen that he'll make the opening-day roster as the team's fifth starter.

"The way he performed, yes. I don't see why not,'' Guillen said. "Obviously we have [two starts left]. We'll see how he feels. Right now he has made progress to be on the ballclub. If everything goes the way it has gone so far I'm having him on the ballclub.''

Who's on third? Oz says 'wait'

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Brent Morel had two singles in five at-bats Friday night to raise his average to .244. Because of his defense -- and he had another good game with the glove against the A's -- the rookie remains the favorite to win the starting third-base job over Mark Teahen, who is batting .474. But Guillen stopped short of naming Morel after Friday's game.

The Sox braintrust met Friday morning to discuss the third-base job; the extra outfielder's competition between Lastings Milledge, Brent Lillibridge and Alejandro De Aza; whether they will open the season with 11 or 12 pitchers; and who the last spot on the staff might go to if they start with 12. But Guillen revealed few details about the talks.

"I need to talk to a couple players about the situation we had in the meetings,'' Guillen said.

The meeting including general manager Ken Williams and assistant GM Rick Hahn. Asked if everybody was on the same page in the meeting, Guillen said "no, not really" because none of the players in question have played themselves out of a job.

"When you have guys play like Milledge, Lillibridge, De Aza, Teahen played and the way Humber and (Gregory) Infante pitched ... we have a little idea about what we want to do but we have to talk to some of them yet.''

Guillen said he wouldn't be opposed to carrying 11 pitchers even if Jake Peavy is ready to take his first projected start on April 5, which would open another spot for a position player. Pitching coach Don Cooper favors 12 pitchers.

"That's the thing we'll discuss next week when we make a definite decision about what we'll do,'' Guillen said.

Peavy determined to pitch Saturday

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After being "as sick as I have ever been in my life," Jake Peavy returned to Camelback Ranch Friday and plans on taking his regular pitching turn Saturday against the Oakland A's in Phoenix.

Looking weak and bleary-eyed from a rough, two-day episode with stomach flu, Peavy played catch on Friday and get some blood flowing through his body.
Manager Ozzie Guillen isn't high on the idea of Peavy taking the ball.

"I'm against it, but he wants to do it,'' Guillen said. "We'll monitor him closely.''

The Sox used only John Danks and Phil Humber in their 18-1 pasting of the Oakland A's Friday night, saving pitching for the possibility today that Peavy doesn't answer the bell.

Peavy threw 67 pitches in his last outing on Monday against the San Diego Padres. Not pitching Saturday would be his first "setback" in his comeback from surgery to reattach a torn lat. The important thing, Peavy said, is that his pitching body parts feel fine.

"I was in bad, bad shape there," said Peavy, who had to take intravenous fluids while dealing with diarreah and vomiting. "It wasn't pretty. My body feels real achy and weak right now.''

Sizing up the opening-day roster

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen sounded Thursday like he is eager to get his 25-man roster squared away.

Guillen, his coaches and general manager Ken Williams and assistant GM Rick Hahn meet Friday to discuss the makeup of the opening-day roster. Expect Brent Morel to get the nod as the starting third baseman over Mark Teahen. And don't be surprised if Lastings Milledge nails down a reserve outfielder's job -- if he hasn't already. Whether the Sox take 11 or 12 pitchers will also be discussed.

"I don't want to make the decision right away, but I have an idea what we have and [I want to] let the players know what their roles are,'' Guillen said Thursday after managing the Sox' 4-0 split squad defeat to the Milwaukee Brewers. "After the meeting, hopefully, we get it done and go from there.''

Peavy misses second day with illness

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jake Peavy missed his second day of work with a nasty stomach virus. He received fluids and medicine at the Sox' complex Thursday morning and met with doctors, who sent him to his residence to rest.
The right-hander is still scheduled to take his normal turn Saturday against the Oakland A's.
"I have him penciled in today for Saturday,'' pitching coach Don Cooper said.
"Some of the preparation he's had to do yesterday and today hasn't been in there. But if he's able to go he'll go. If not we'll run somebody else out there. Hopefully he won't have to miss.''

Key to any good Sale: Location, location, location

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - Chris Sale has that electric stuff - a fastball that flirts with the 100-mph fast lane and a hard slider that comes at hitters from a difficult angle - but he knows both are worthless without command.

Plain and simple, that's the prized rookie's issue this spring. In competition with fellow left-hander Matt Thornton to be the White Sox' closer, Sale is looking to recapture the command that helped him save four games in four opportunities last year while going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA. He struck out 32 in 21 appearances.

Last summer, he was the kid showing off the stuff that made him a first-round draft pick. This spring, he's finding his way through his first camp. The spotlight is shining brighter, but he says he's not feeling the heat.

"Not really,'' Sale said Wednesday morning. "Every time I go out there it's not like I'm thinking I have to do well because I want to be the closer. I want to do well for my team and for myself. Obviously I am fighting for a job, but when I am out there I am focused on getting guys out and helping my team. Not because I want to be the closer or want this or that role.''

Humber takes step forward

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Phil Humber is just another guy trying to win a job in camp, and for the No. 3 overall pick in the 2004 draft, it's better that way.

No living up to the hype. Just go out and pitch.

"I signed as a minor-league free agent last year -- there aren't a whole lot of expectations that come with that,'' said Humber, who pitched three scoreless innings in his start against Texas on Thursday. "It was good for me. I could do my own thing and not worry what others were thinking about it. Just relax and go out and have fun with baseball.''

Looking to fit in as a long relief man or fifth starter if Jake Peavy doesn't break camp, Humber threw 19 of his 26 pitches for strikes. He gave up two singles, struck out two and walked none.

"He's the only guy who has stepped it up,'' Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He took a big step today.''

Since being drafted out of Rice by the Mets after Matt Bush and Justin Verlander, Humber has battled through a series of injuries, including reconstructive elbow surgery. He owns a pedestrian 5.26 combined ERA over 51 1/3 innings with the Mets, Twins and Royals. At Kansas City last season, his 2-1 won-lost record and 4.15 ERA offered a trace of encouragement.

Bullpen coach Juan Nieves has been working with Humber on a cut fastball, which he used Thursday. The Sox coaching staff encourage newcomers to experiment with the cutter. It works better for some than others.

"It's a new pitch for me,'' Humber said. "Juan has been helping me out with a little bit and I've been picking other guys' brains. Now it's a matter of knowing when to use it in the game and being confident it will do what it needs to do.''

Viciedo out 3-4 weeks

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Tank had been money in the bank as far as White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was concerned.

Now Dayan Viciedo's spring training is over. The right fielder suffered a fractured right thumb when he was hit with a pitch by Texas Rangers right-hander Dave Bush during the eighth inning of the Sox' 7-6 Cactus League victory on Thursday. He is expected to be out three to four weeks.

"Every time you go to spring training you always worry about that, people getting hurt,'' Guillen said. "When that happens to any player, especially the way he's been playing, it was sad. That's the bad part of this game People get hurt and you feel for them no matter if it was Dayan or anybody else.''

Thornton gets 2-year extension

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Left-handed reliever Matt Thornton agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract extension with the White Sox on Sunday.

The deal includes a club option for 2014. Thornton, 34, will receive $5.5 million each in 2012 and 2013. The Sox hold a $6 million option for 2014, which includes a $1 million buyout.

Named to the American League All-Star team as a setup man last season, Thornton's role is yet to be determined for this season. He is being considered for and has expressed a desire to be the Sox' closer.

Thornton is 26-23 with a 3.68 ERA with 436 strikeouts in 410 career games over seven seasons with the Seattle Mariners and Sox. He was 5-4 with a 2.67 ERA In 2010, and he led all AL relievers with 12.02 strikeouts per nine innings. He also had eight saves.

He is one of four relievers with 20 or more holds in the last three seasons.

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