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May 2012 Archives

Sale, Ventura have no worries about pitch count

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - That cringe felt around the South Side when left-hander Chris Sale trotted out to start the eighth inning of his 15-strikeout game Monday was understandable.

Sale had thrown 110 pitches, had missed a start with a tender left elbow and is pitching like one of the best in baseball. He appreciates the concern but assures everyone he's going to be fine.

"I feel good,'' Sale said after throwing long toss on Tuesday. "Everything is fine. I've been working with [director of conditioning Allen Thomas] in the weight room, with the training staff, doing extra work and it's paying off.''

Sale got almost as fired up about the subject of finishing with 115 pitches as he did at an umpire's call at second base Monday.

"Everybody's got their opinion, good bad or indifferent,'' Sale said. "I got nothing for that. I was in a groove and they let me back out there and I appreciate that.''

Sale and manager Robin Ventura both pointed to the extra day of rest Sale gets with Thursday's off day.

"I probably wouldn't be able to do that every time out but occasionally it's not going to hurt,'' Sale said.

Ventura said Sale went five-to-10 pitches beyond what was planned before the game.

"I get the question but most of it is how he was throwing it,'' Ventura said. "The times before he's been out there, the way he's going about it, the kind of pitches he's throwing, getting in and out of innings, how he's feeling. He has certain kinds of sliders - how many he throws with the extreme torque. We monitor all that stuff. I don't have any question about it.''

Sale, who grew up in Lakeland, Fla., said Monday's game was the highlight of his pitching career. The performance came with many friends and family in attendance at the park where he watched his first major league game. He came within one strikeout of tying the White Sox record of 16 set by Jack Harshman in 1954.

Williams hoping White Sox hot streaks pays off at gate

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The White Sox left town Sunday as the hottest team in baseball. When they return this weekend, general manager Ken Williams would expect to see the fan base respond accordingly.
"The answer to that is yes. Who wouldn't?'' Williams said Monday before the Sox opened a three-game game series against the Rays. "They [fans] create a lot of energy. I don't know if they truly realize the effect that can have on a club on a day-to day-basis. That energy, that electricity that gives you a little extra push.''
The Sox drew 21,371, 27,151 and 22,182 for the Indians weekend series, Saturday's crowd boosted by a Robin Ventura bobblehead giveaway. The Sox rank 11th among 14 AL teams.
Say this for the weekend crowds: They were vocal. Players are in agreement that crowds make a difference, home and away.
"It's a heck of an advantage when you have that kind of support,'' Williams said. "Absent of that we'll go through our day to-day-grind and hopefully at some point in time we'll get people's attention.
Williams said that attendance, as always, affect his wherewithal to deal near the trade deadline.
"Of course,'' he said. "Every day that you don't fill the seats at least to a greater degree that we are, it hurts. We've been able to find ways over the years to creatively add and improve the team. It's par for the course. That's nothing that's going to stop the creative juices from flowing to try to get something done.''

White Sox pick up Humber with 5 home runs

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Philip Humber was at a loss after failing to get a win despite being staked to a 4-1 lead on Thursday night.

"I just wasn't very good,'' Humber said after giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings in the White Sox' 11-8 victory against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. "I don't know, man. I didn't command anything from the start. It's hard to figure out what's going on."

The Sox hit five home runs, including a grand slam by Alejandro De Aza after De Aza had a homer taken away by video replay in his previous at-bat. A.J. Pierzynski, Paul Konerko, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo also homered.

"I'm glad the team picked me up,'' said Humber (5.80 ERA), who hasn't won since his perfect game in Seattle and hasn't won at home in 12 starts, dating to June 12 against Oakland. "Great job by the lineup and the bullpen. I'm very disappointed with my effort."

The Sox have won six of their last seven games and brace themselves for a three-game series with the first-place Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. The Indians are coming off a three-game sweep of the AL Central favorite Detroit Tigers.

Konerko hit his 10th homer of the season and has stayed on a tear despite missing two games after getting hit near the eye by a pitch from the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija on Friday. He is 19-for-34 (.559) with four homers and nine RBI in his current 10-game hitting streak. The homer was the 45th of his career against the Twins, an opponent high for him.

De Aza's slam, the first of his career, highlighted a six-run sixth.

"It's big,'' manager Robin Ventura said. "We have kind of had those innings where we've given up a crooked number, to be able to come back the way we did. De Aza's grand slam, that's a big one for us. We haven't really had that inning where we cash them all in. It's nice to do that, just kind of keep it going. Rios and Paulie had a night, too.''

"Once you see a teammate hit a home run, you want to hit a home run,'' said De Aza, who has four as the leadoff man.

The homers by Pierzynski, Konerko and Rios -- who homered for the second consecutive night -- came against right-hander Cole De Vries, who was making his major league debut.

Sox relievers Nate Jones, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton were not scored on, although Jones gave up a two-run single to Brian Dozier that was charged to Humber. Will Ohman and Addison Reed each gave up a home run to Justin Morneau.


White Sox' Danks headed to disabled list

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Just when the White Sox were turning a corner...
Just when John Danks was making some strides...
The injury bug has reared its ugly head.
"Seems like if it's not one thing it's something else at this point,'' said Danks, who is headed to the 15-day disabled list with soreness in the the back of his left shoulder.
An MRI was performed, and Danks and manager Robin Ventura do not believe the problem area, the subscapularis - a major muscle in the rotator cuff - presents a serious issue. The optimistic expectation is that Danks goes on the DL retroactive to Sunday, will miss starts against the Indians at home Friday and the Rays at Tampa on Wednesday before returning to pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 5 at U.S. Cellular Field.
"We're just getting out in front of it and making sure we take care of him,'' Ventura said.
Left-hander Jose Quintana will be called up from AAA Charlotte to pitch in Danks' spot against the Indians on Friday night when the Sox open a three-game series against the AL Central leaders. Quintana pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-hit relief in Cleveland on May 7. He'll likely get two starts.
Danks said he first experienced trouble in the shoulder in his start against the Cubs on Saturday. After pitching 6 1/3 scoreless innings, he was taken out after 83 pitches. Ventura said after the game that Danks looked "a little fatigued.'' Danks kept the problem quiet and hoped to pitch his way through it.
Danks told general manager Ken Williams, Ventura and trainer Herm Schneider that he could pitch Friday, but after discussing it with them, "better to be safe than sorry,'' Danks said.
"I'm bummed about it but I'm looking forward to getting healthy,'' Danks said. "I'll be well-rested for the second half of the season.''
Danks (3-4, 5.70), who signed a $65 million, five-year contract extension during the offseason and was the Sox' Opening Day starter, has the seventh-highest ERA.
"I think it was one of those where he kind of felt it, and every day since then, he's been noticing it,'' Ventura said. "It's nothing serious, but nothing we really want to mess with this early in the season.''
The oddity is that Danks' velocity was back up against the Cubs after it had been slightly down before that. His command was better, too.
"I was hoping [the Cubs game] would be a jump-start to the season, and now here we are,'' Danks said
"I'm just going to try and stay positive, get my work in, get healthy and be healthy for June up.''

It has become increasingly evident that rookie Addison Reed will be the White Sox closer sooner rather than later. Before Wednesday's game against the Twins, manager Robin Ventura made it official.

"Yeah. I'll say that,'' Ventura said before the Sox played the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. "He's earned that and I feel comfortable putting him in there.''

Aside from a six-run blowup against the Royals, Reed has been unscored on in every outing. He has four saves in four opportunities since May 5, including one on Friday against the Cubs, and he pitched the ninth inning in Sunday's win against the Cubs in a non-save situation. Reed has 17 strikeouts and has not allowed a home run in 13 1/3 innings.

"Some nights he's up to 98 [miles per hour] and some nights he's 96, but he's still pretty good,'' Ventura said. "Even when you'd look at him and think he didn't have it, he's got it.''

There were those who thought Reed could have been the closer out of spring training, but left-hander Hector Santiago was given the job. Reed, a closer in college, took it in stride and said he was happy to pitch any time, any place.

"He could have been [ready in early April],'' Ventura said. "The way it worked out, I think it's going to be better for him in the long run.''

It's a job Reed has always wanted.

"I don't think he cares,'' Ventura said. "I think he just wants the ball and pitches. From spring training on every time you hand him the ball he's not overwhelmed by any situation.''

Hickey eulogies bring tears, laughter

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By Mark Konkol

On Tuesday, hundreds of folks gathered at Old St. Patrick's Church in Chicago to say their final goodbyes to former White Sox pitcher Kevin Hickey -- who since 2003 had pitched batting practice for the club. Hickey died Wednesday. He was 56.

Sox captain Paul Konerko, catcher A.J. Pierzynski, pitching coach Don Cooper, trainer Herm Schneider, bullpen catcher Mark Salas, Sox travel director Ed Cassin and Hickey's friend John Capone were pallbearers.

Hickey was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip.

Eulogies given by Cooper and Pierzynski brought tears, laughter.

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper:

"Everybody who has gone through the clubhouse from 2004 on was touched by this guy. .... I'll remember him as a friend and I want to celebrate him that way.

I know what [Kevin] would be telling me now, "OK, take a few minutes and then pay me homage," he'd say. "Give me homage and give me kudos." That's what we're trying to do in the midst of everything.

What I believe is he's in the presence of God. And knowing Kevin the first question he asked was," How can I help? What can I do?" I imagine God's response would be 'Kevin, you've don enough. It's time to rest and hang with me. You're on my team now.'

"I hope that we can turn our sorrow in to joy ... We were blessed to know him ... If I had a glass in my hand, a beer in my hand, I'd say a toast to Kevin. So later today when you have a beer in your hand toast him for me, because we'll be toasting him every day with the White Sox."

Father Paul Novak: "Thank you, Reverend Cooper. (Laughter)"

A.J. Pierzynski - "Coop, we got a new name for you, "Reverend Cooper." Thank you, Father.

I have so many stories about Hick. (Chokes up) ... He was there every day with a smile on his face. He loved being on the baseball field every day.

"He would do anything for you. He taught John Danks how to throw a cutter. He was there every day no matter what with me. If we had a lefty he'd be there before me waiting for me by my locker and say, "Do you need me to throw to you?" He'd throw literally until his arm fell off.

"I think Cooper told him to shave his head, because he loved him and his bald head. If you ever need to find him he was either working out or shaving his head ... Hickey had some sayings during ball games 'Show 'em your credentials.'

"He'd always tell Paulie to 'Crown 'em.' For those who don't know, we call Paulie 'The King.'

"[Hickey] became a parrot for Cooper. Cooper would tell Hick a saying and he'd yell it. The thing about Hick is he was there every day, he loved his life, he loved his family, he loved his friends, he loved baseball, and more important he loved White Sox baseball.

"No one was more proud of our team that this weekend we really swept the Cubs (chokes up. Applause). His jersey was there hanging, watching us ... I'll miss Kevin forever."

White Sox place Morel on DL, sign Hudson

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The White Sox placed third baseman Brent Morel on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday and signed switch-hitting second baseman Orlando Hudson.

Hudson, 34, who has won four Gold Gloves as a second baseman, has not played third base since the minor leagues but will play third for the Sox while serving as a backup to second baseman Gordon Beckham, manager Robin Ventura said Sunday. The Sox agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Hudson that covers the rest of the season.

Morel has a lumbar back strain. He did not play in the Sox' series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field over the weekend, and has been dealing with low back discomfort since spring training. Morel had finished his rookie season last year with eight home runs in September. He batted .245 for the season.

This season, Morel is batting .177 with no homers, five RBI and 39 strikeouts. The DL move is retroactive to Friday.

Hudson, who will wear jersey No. 5, was released by the San Diego Padres last week after batting .211 with one home run and five triples in 35 games. He batted .246 with seven homers, 43 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 2011. He is a two-time All-Star (Dodgers 2009, Diamondbacks '07) with a career .276 average and .343 on-base percentage.

Hudso's career spans 1,294 games over 11 seasons with Toronto (2002-05), Arizona (2006-08), the Dodgers (2009), Minnesota (2010) and San Diego (2011-12).

Hudson is one of nine second basemen with four or more Gold Gloves, along with Roberto Alomar, Ryne Sandberg, Bill Mazeroski, Frank White, Joe Morgan, Bobby Richardson, Craig Biggio, Bret Boone and Bobby Grich.

The Sox open a six-game homestand with Tuesday night's game against the Minnesota Twins. Gavin Floyd pitches for the Sox against P.J. Walters.

Third base in cards for Hudson, DL for White Sox' Morel

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Orlando Hudson will likely be in uniform for the White Sox when they open a three-game series against the Twins on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field. Third baseman Brent Morel is likely headed to the disabled list.

"I think so unless [trainer] Herm [Schneider] says different,'' Ventura said Sunday of Morel, who has a bulging disc in his lower right back. "Right now it looks that way.''

Hudson, a 34-year-old four-time Gold Glove second baseman and two-time All-Star, hasn't played third in the majors. He played 242 games at the hot corner in the Toronto Blue Jays minor-league system, however. There is no talk of moving second baseman Gordon Beckham back to third base, where he played as a rookie.

"That's probably more of where he would play with Gordon being at second,'' Ventura said. "He might be able to fill in there later, give [Beckham] a day off here and there.''

Ventura said he'll keep Beckham batting second and would use Hudson toward the bottom of the order. Hudson was batting .211 with one home run when the Padres released him Thursday.

Once swelling goes down, White Sox' Konerko good to go

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Paul Konerko's left eye feels fine, it just doesn't look very good.

Because of the swelling around the eye after being hit by a pitch in Friday's 3-2 White Sox win at Wrigley Field, Konerko will be out for at least one more game.

"It's just a matter of getting the swelling down,'' Konerko said before the Sox played the Cubs on Saturday night. "There's no damage, no fractures, no problems with vision, other than just kind of seeing the swelling when I look out. So as soon as we get that out of the way, I'll be good to go.''

"As soon as he can see he can play,'' manager Robin Ventura said. [Trainer] Herm [Schneider] is working on it, I don't know how long that lasts. Miracle by tomorrow he'd be able to play, probably not till Tuesday.''

The Sox close out their three-game series against the Cubs Sunday, have an off day Monday and open a three-game series at home Tuesday against the Twins.

"He seems fine,'' Ventura said. "He would want to play if he could see. He's doing fine.''

Konerko said he is fortunate that the injury wasn't worse. He was hit with a pitch from Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardjiza.

"Yeah, anytime you get hit up high, everything happens kind of fast and it kind of blew up kind of quick,'' Konerko said. "So when I was looking out, within 5-10 seconds my vision was obstructed by the swelling. But when it first happens like that you're thinking something is wrong with your actual vision, which is a different story. So luckily it wasn't that. It's just a nice black eye.''

Konerko said he hadn't heard from the Cubs pitcher who said he wasn't trying to pitch high and in to Konerko, who had homered off Samardzija in the first inning.

"I have not talked to him,'' Konerko said. "I thought it looked like a cutter or a slider from the front end. I think he said it was a splitter, someone said it was a splitter, so it obviously didn't come out right, of the hand. The velocity I think shows that as well.

"I think with the sequence of pitches I had seen up until that point, I figured it was going to be what he was going to throw. So when it came out of the hand, I was staying in there kind of holding my ground because I figured it was going to be one of those two pitches anyways, and that's what it looked like out of the hand. And then instead of going either straight down or down and away from me, it just kind of stayed high and unraveled kind of into me. It just chased me up and in.''

Konerko knew his vision problem was related only to the swelling, which came as a relief.

"As soon as I knew that was the case, it really wasn't even that painful,'' Konerko said. "You just know you can't see clearly out of it. It's more frustrating in that sense because at that point everything else feels great.''

Hudson headed to White Sox

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Veteran second baseman Orlando Hudson is on his way to join the White Sox soon, according to a team source.

Hudson, 34, who was given his unconditional release by the San Diego Padres this week, is making it known to players and media that he will be joining the team. He batted .211 with one home run and 11 RBI for San Diego this season.

Although Hudson has not played third base in the major leagues, he did play the position a lot in the minor leagues. The Sox might need help at the position soon. Brent Morel's back has kept him out of the lineup for two consecutive games, and Morel and manager Robin Ventura both said Saturday that Morel might go on the disabled list.

Sox general manager Ken Williams has tried to acquire Hudson in the past, particularly in 2009. Williams did not immediately return messages to comment.

Hudson, who was released on Thursday, has reportedly agreed to a contract with the Sox, possibly a minor-league deal.

"We felt it was time to make a change," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said after releasing Hudson. "O-Dog has been a two-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner and a contributor to playoff teams, but at this point, we want to give our younger players an opportunity."

The Padres signed Hudson to an $11.5 million, two-year contract prior to the 2011 season. He was making $5.5 million this year, with a $2 million buyout for next season. The Sox would be off the hook for that deal.

Hudson has a career .276 average, .343 on-base percentage and .415 slugging percentage.

Tests OK on Konerko; Humber's location not OK with Sveum

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The White Sox said the preliminary tests on first baseman Paul Konerko came back clean and showed no problems, and there are no other injuries beyond the laceration and some swelling above his left eye after he was hit by a pitch in Friday's game against the Cubs. Konerko will be re-evaluated before Saturday night's game at Wrigley Field.

Konerko was hit with a pitch from Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija. He has a small cut and swelling above his left eye. He was evaluated at Rush Hospital.

The Sox star walked off the field on his own with trainer Herm Schneider, holding a towel to his head.

Konerko hit a two-run homer in the first inning. Samardzija came to the home plate area while Konerko was down, an indication he was concerned and felt badly about hitting Konerko, and later discussed what happened with Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski when he led off the bottom of the inning.

Samardzjia almost seemed shaken by what happened.

"It's unfortunate,'' Samardzija said after the game. "There's a lot of superstars in this league that put up big numbers, get paid a lot of money, and Paulie's one of those guys that does that, is a superstar and does it the right way. There's not too many of those guys out there. He's not about show. He's not about himself. Paulie's a great guy. That ball got away. Unfortunately it hit him up high. If I could take it back I would. Only thing that makes me OK about it is he's a tough guy. I hope he'll be all right. And I wish I had that one back.''

Samardzija led off the bottom of the inning, but after having a conversation with Pierzynski, Sox right-hander Philip Humber did not retaliate. Instead, Humber threw behind Cubs first baseman and cleanup hitter Bryan LaHair when LaHair led off the next inning. Cubs manager Dale Sveum was not happy about Humber's pitch being that high.

"Unfortunately you're not really expecting any retaliation after somebody gets hit by a split-finger fastball. We're obviously not trying to hit Paul with any kind of pitch like that. But if there's retaliation you'd sure appreciate if a guy throws a little bit lower than he did. Unfortunately he didn't ... those are incidents that happen in baseball sometimes.

"And I hope Paul's alright, because he's a friend of mine. I play golf with him and have spent some time with him before, so hopefully it's no big deal.''

Humber and both benches were warned by plate umpire Tim Timmons.

Business as usual for White Sox' Peavy (4-1)

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CLEVELAND -- Jake Peavy got some early run support, and the White Sox right-hander was grateful.

"The team played outstanding tonight. They swung the bats,'' Peavy said after improving to 4-1 with the White Sox 8-1 victory against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night. "It's big when you get runs early. You come out being aggressive when you get those first two and then they put a lot on the board and you try to throw strikes.''

Adam Dunn launched a 425-foot, two-run homer in the first inning, and the Sox erupted for six more runs in the fourth to gain a split of their four-game series with the American League Central leaders. Dunn has 10 homers, one short of his 2011 total, and he has gone deep six times in his last 11 games.

Peavy pitched seven innings, allowing seven hits and one walk while striking out five. The Indians got their run in the seventh.

"I got a little stiff there after six [after sitting for an extended time] and had trouble getting back loose there for the seventh,'' Peavy said. "But yeah, pretty clean. Like you said, you have 30-something [starts] like that, it would be a perfect world.

"It's a good team over there, a very tough team against a right-handed starter. But [catcher] A.J. [Pierzynski] battled and the team played outstanding behind me.''

The American League Pitcher of the Month for April, Peavy lowered his ERA to 1.89 while collecting his first victory since April 23. He is three wins shy of his total for last season. For manager Robin Ventura, Peavy's performances are becoming routine.

"For me, this is what I'm seeing,'' Ventura said. "I've seen this before so again, he's been everything you can ask for.

"Guys came out swinging and Jake, it's the same for him. He's been impressive and there's not much more I can say about him because he's done everything. He's professional. He gives us a lot of energy every time he pitches. And a game like today the offense breaks through, gets guys on and get them early and consistently get those hits with guys on is something that's been building for a while.''

The Sox are off Thursday before opening a homestand against the Royals on Friday. The Tigers play at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday and Tuesday. Peavy will face the Tigers on Tuesday.

"Just good for us to come back and get these two wins after losing the doubleheader and getting back and pushing it toward .500,'' Peavy said. "You gotta beat the team in first place in your division. Good win and a good off-day and we gotta regroup and beat another division opponent Friday.''

Though it may not have been evident from the results, Peavy did it without his best stuff.

"I didn't have great stuff but I was able to pitch. I didn't have an easy start by any means but a start where you can be aggressive and throw a lot of strikes and not have to really work hard. It was nice. And having the extra day, I don't know. I promise you I'm worried about the start against Detroit on Tuesday night and I'll do everything I can do to get back at them.

"It's going to be a tough challenge being the third time I've faced that team. I gotta make a lot of good pitches and I'm looking forward to doing that.''

Sale to have MRI on Thursday

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CLEVELAND -- Chris Sale will undergo an MRI on his left elbow in Chicago on Thursday, a precautionary move, the White Sox are saying, to make sure there is nothing wrong with their prized left-hander.

Sale pitched out of bullpen Tuesday night for the first time since he was moved from the starting rotation. He said Tuesday and Wednesday that he feels fine, and the Sox are insisting that he's not hurt.

"He's not hurt, it's more monitoring what's going on and seeing where it's at,'' manager Robin Ventura said before the Sox played the Indians on Wednesday night. "It's kind of precautionary stuff that happens all the time.''

Pitching coach Don Cooper reiterated Wednesday that Sale might return to the rotation at some point this season. Ventura said it's possible but that he'd be surprised if that happens.

"That's something we'll go over when we get back home,'' Ventura said. "I don't see it that way but again, this all happened pretty fast. Getting everybody in the room and expressing it face to face is probably the best thing to do. That's when you get the most information and make the right decision. We'll see when we get everybody in the room.''

Sale was down on himself after Tuesday's 5-3 Sox win against the Indians because he failed to hold a lead for starter John Danks in the eighth inning. He was in much better spirits Wednesday.

""I think this is something that is precautionary, that we all want to get the wrinkles out of this and find our 100 percent if there is or isn't [damage],'' he said. "Pitching last night, did some long toss today, I feel fine so I'm not really worried about it so it's one of those things I got to do, just to make sure."

White Sox' Rios has last word in battle with Perez

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CLEVELAND -- Chris Perez didn't have his way, and Alex Rios had his say.

With his actions, not words.

Rios, peeved by Perez's show of exuberance after closing out an Indians win at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday when he retired Rios for the final out, roped a triple to right-center field against Perez in the 10th inning Tuesday night that helped the Sox to a 5-3 victory. Rios drove in the go-ahead run and scored on Alexei Ramirez's grounder to second baseman Jason Kipnis.

"It was just part of the game," Rios said when asked if there was a revenge factor. "I was just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere and it worked out pretty good."

Rios took exception to Perez after the Indians closer got the save on Thursday. Umpires stepped between them as the teams were walking off the field. Rios could have gone into third standing up, but he made a pop-up slide and clapped his hands one time.

Perez (0-1), asked if he was peeved about losing and surprised by his outing, shot back at a reporter who asked the question.

"That's a stupid question. This is baseball. I was never going to give up another run again? Come on.

"It's baseball. I gave up two hits. We lost, It stinks, especially after we battled back. What are you going to do?"

Perez gave up a leadoff single to Paul Konerko in the 10th. After A.J. Pierzynski popped out, Rios lined a ball over Kipnis that rolled to the right-center field wall, scoring pinch runner Brent Lillibridge.

"We didn't say any words today," Perez said. "I just made a bad pitch and he did what he's supposed to do -- hit it in the gap."

The Indians swept a doubleheader from the Sox on Monday, and after they came back from a 3-0 deficit on Tuesday, the Sox came away with a needed win.

"It's an important win to come back like that, tells us that we're fine,'' Rios said. "We lost those two games yesterday but to come back like this is a confidence boost.''

Sox manager Robin Ventura didn't downplay the significance of the Rios-Perez rift.

"Baseball has its way of doing that,'' Ventura said. "I'm sure you've had situations in baseball where you have that and your focus is a little better. It's a well-struck ball. Baseball players don't forget a lot of stuff."

White Sox call up Stults to start Monday

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DETROIT -- The White Sox will bring up left-hander Eric Stults from AAA Charlotte to pitch in the second game of Monday's day-night doubleheader in Cleveland.

In five starts at AAA Charlotte, the 32-year-old Stults was 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 10 walks. He is 8-10 with a 4.93 ERA in parts of five major-league seasons with the Dodgers and Rockies.

Teams are allowed to expand rosters to 26 for doubleheaders. Dylan Axelrod, who starts in Sunday's game in Detroit, was originally penciled in to start against the AL Central-leading Indians on Monday (12:05 p.m) but was moved to Sunday to take the place of Chris Sale, who has been moved to the bullpen.

Asked before Sunday's game if Stults and Axelrod are in competition for a regular starter's role, Ventura said, "It's just one of those we'll see how it goes and make decisions based on how the next week shakes out. We're still going over stuff after we put Sale in the bullpen. I don't think anything is concrete."

Philip Humber, who hasn't been sharp in his last two starts following his perfect game in Seattle on April 21, will start the 6:05 p.m. game Monday.

"I'm getting ahead in the count and instead of staying on top of the hitters, find self going from 0-1 and 1-2 to 3-2,'' Humber said Sunday. "When I'm right, I'm a guy who fills up the strike zone. When I get back to that I'll be right where I need to be. I feel great. My stuff is as good or better than last year.''



White Sox move Sale to bullpen, Axelrod to rotation

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DETROIT -- The White Sox made a surprising and significant decision on Friday to move Chris Sale back to the bullpen. Sale, who has had a short but successful run as a starter this season after relieving last year, has been experiencing slight tenderness in his elbow area, manager Robin Ventura said.

Rather than risk his long-time health, the Sox decided to move Sale back to the bullpen, where he will assume the closer's role. Dylan Axelrod will move into the rotation and will start Sunday against the Tigers in Sale's place.

Ventura said Sale will be available to close on Monday when the Sox play two games in Cleveland.

"It's not disappointing to us, it's disappointing to him because this was something he's always wanted to do,'' pitching coach Don Cooper said before the Sox' game at Detroit Friday. "We're not making this decision based on what's best for the team because obviously he's starting and doing well and that would be a wonderful thing to keep him in. We feel we're doing what's best for him, his career and his health. It's the best way to keep him healthy and strong.''

Sale, 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA, has been the Sox' second-best starter behind AL Pitcher of the Month Jake Peavy. He pitched in the bullpen last year but his stated goal was always to start. His transition to the job had been smooth. He wasn't happy about the move, Cooper said, and he declined to talk to reporters before Friday's game, asking instead if he could talk Saturday.

"It's easier to maintain that and keeping tabs on this in the bullpen than it is as a starter,'' Cooper said. "We already know he's a good left-handed reliever. That's been proven over the past 1 ½ years. Now we'll be trying to make him one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball, not just in the American League. That's all we're at with it. Chris is going to be fine. He was upset. He wanted to continue to do this. But sometimes we have to make decisions based upon what we feel is best for that individual, and that's what we did."

Rookie left-hander Hector Santiago, who had four saves in six opportunities with a 7.36 ERA, moves to the middle of the bulllpen that is now stacked with four lefties -- Sale, Santiago, Matt Thornton and Will Ohman.

"When you think about it, we have four pretty good lefties out there,'' Cooper said. "So listen, this gives Hector a chance to pitch. And pitch and develop. Go out there and play, get more comfortable, get your major league legs underneath you. Think about it ... he went from Double-A to the majors as a closer. That's a big jump.

"He did a credible job except for two games. But he needs to go out there like we're sending [rookie right-hander] Nate Jones out there. And [rookie right-hander Addison] Reed out there, to go out and pitch and learn the craft to get more experience. And waiting around some times to pitch and not pitch doesn't serve him as well. This was a decision based solely - it had nothing to do with anyone else - other than Chris."

Axelrod was outsanding at AAA Charlotte and has allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings since getting called up.

"Heck, he's pitching Sunday, so certainly we got faith in him to go out there,'' Cooper said.


Rehab stint likely for White Sox' Crain

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Jesse Crain is eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday but the right-handed reliever won't be back any time soon. Manager Robin Ventura said one or two minor-league rehab outings are likely once Crain's left oblique heals completely.

Crain had hoped to throw off a mound Thursday but was limited to about 20 throws on flat ground.

"I don't do anything half [way], so I got to be ready to go, I got to get through it without it bothering me and affecting the way I pitch,'' Crain said.

Crain, who was shelved with a mild right oblique strain is frustrated with this one, which is probably more delicate for a right-hander. He tried to stay positive.

"The other day when I was done throwing, it felt very tight and sensitive,'' he said. "Today, it doesn't feel quite like that. So I think it's a step forward."

White Sox' Peavy named Pitcher of the Month

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Jake Peavy was named American League Pitcher of the Month for April in Monday, the fifth monthly award of his career and his first as a White Sox.

Peavy, 30, who appears to be all the way back from major surgery to re-attach a torn lat muscle, is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA, 33 strikeouts, two complete games and one shutout in five starts. He led the AL in ERA, opponents average (.162) and complete games.

"Obviously I feel very blessed to win the award,'' Peavy said before the Sox played the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night. "It's a nice thing but at the same time I can't look back on that. We have a long way to go and we have a big start Friday night against a division opponent [Detroit] in their ballpark.''

Over his last three starts totaling 25 innings, Peavy has allowed two runs. He has allowed 21 hits in 37 innings, including a total of 13 hits over his last four starts. Peavy has allowed two runs in 25 innings over his last three starts. He also threw complete games in back-to-back starts for the first time in his career.

"I'm healthy,'' Peavy said. "I'm not doing anything different than I ever have. Obviously, [compared to] the San Diego [Padres] days the velocity is maybe a tick or so down. But if you watch other guys pitch who have the same miles, everyone slows down. And you go through the times I've went through you learn a little about pitching. Mixing and matching and experience goes a long way. To be healthy and worry about nothing but executing a game plan is nice.''

The Sox already have three AL honors this season. Philip Humber, who starts Wednesday night's game against the Indians at U.S. Celllar Field, was named AL Player of the Week for April after throwing a perfect game on April 21 at Seattle. Paul Konerko received the honor last week.

Beckham, Pierzynski homer in White Sox victory

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After watching Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel struggle through the entire first month of the season, White Sox manager Robin Ventura for the first time talked about a limit to his patience with his young infielders.

That was before the Sox' 7-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

"Eventually you probably have to do something,'' Ventura said out of earshot of the struggling duo.

Consider them warned. And as if responding to the veiled threat, Beckham responded with his first home run of the season on his first at-bat, a 394-foot shot to left against Ubaldo Jimenez. He also singled to right in his next two at-bats, driving in Morel with one after Morel singled and stole second.

Morel went into the game batting .178 with three RBI and 26 strikeouts. Beckham was at .153 and two RBI, 16 strikeouts and a team-high four double plays.

"I'm still confident they're going to perform,'' Ventura said before the game. "But eventually it gets to the point where you would have to make a move if it would stay like that. But right now I'm not going to do that.''

Beckham and Morel, who were rested in the Sox' most recent game Sunday against the Red Sox, are far from being "back.'' One good game does not establish that, but Tuesday's was a start.

"I just wanted to get back to be being me and doing what I'm capable of doing,'' Beckham said. "For the most part I have been getting myself out. It was nice to do some damage.''

Ventura can relate, having gone through an 0-for-41 slump as a rookie. Maybe that's why his leash is so long for Beckham-Morel.

"They have to get to that point that they don't care about that and it'll turn around for them,'' Ventura said.

Beckham's homer started a wild third half of the inning for the Sox. The smoke from the fireworks that followed was so thick, it caused Indians third baseman Jason Donald to lose Alejandro De Aza's pop up which fell for a double. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera muffed a routine grounder by Alexei Ramirez, and after walks to Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, Cabrera dropped A.J. Pierzynski's pop-up on the pitcher's mound. But Pierzynski was out on the infield-fly rule. The Sox pushed in two more runs on a fielder's choice by Alex Rios and an infield single by Dayan Viciedo.

Pierzynski opened the scoring with a 418-foot homer, his fifth, in the second inning.

Chris Sale (3-1) threw 88 pitches in six innings, a light night's work on five days rest that falls in line with the Sox' plan to watch his workload in his first season of starting.

Hector Santiago pitched a shaky but scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.

Sale gave up three hits and one walk while striking out three.

''I'm trying to build on each and every outing,'' Sale said. "And learn something from each outing -- good, bad or indifferent. I've said it before: It takes a tremendous amount of pressure off me when you go out and swing the bats the way we did today. It was like an explosion went off. It was fun to watch. It's easier to pitch in those games when you got six, seven runs.

"Honestly, I just follow whatever game plan A.J. had for me, and whatever fingers he was throwing down, I was going with it. He did a great job behind the plate, mixing in and out, up and down, and slow, fast. Like I said before, just putting all my faith and trust in him and going with whatever he's got."

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