Danks to start Thursday against Rangers in his home state; pitcher Vazquez may play right field; Podsednik update; Guillen on Seattle.
The season has been a source of much frustration for White Sox players, but few more so than designated hitter Jim Thome, who has yet to realize his goals of a World Series ring and a 500th career home run here.
“It is frustrating, because the bottom line is you play to win,” said Thome, who remained stuck on 493 homers after back spasms sidelined him for a third consecutive game against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday afternoon. “I’ve said that all year long. Ultimately, we work hard throughout the winter and spring training to give ourselves an opportunity to play in the postseason.”
Thome was confident that with a few personnel changes and healthy breaks, the team would return to form next season.
“This team won the World Series two years ago,” Thome said. “There’s not that much difference now. Sometimes things happen and you can’t pinpoint why, but injuries and certain things like that do happen.
“The organization kept Mark (Buehrle) and Jermaine (Dye) and a lot of our core players intact. We’ve got good pitching. It’s just a matter of jelling and getting into a groove and not having injuries. Sometimes we tend to forget that any time you lose guys like myself, Joe (Crede), Darin (Erstad) and Scott (Podsednik), those are significant pieces of the puzzle.”
Thome responded to treatment and could return to the lineup for the series finale this afternoon.
“I felt good when I woke up today, which is great,” said Thome, who believed damp weather contributed to the problem. “I’ll be ready to go when they call on me.”
The next start for John Danks is scheduled for Thursday night, a move that will allow for five days of rest between starts and the chance to pitch against the Rangers in Texas, his home state.
Danks was drafted by the Rangers in Round 1 of the 2003 draft before he left as part of the Brandon McCarthy trade in December.
“John wants that (assignment), but that’s not why I’ll do it,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “We haven’t shielded this kid in any way, shape or form. He hasn’t done good recently, but I haven’t forgotten all the good things that he did early in the season.”
Danks was ahead of schedule before he hit the rookie wall in recent weeks. In 24 starts, the left-hander is 6-12 with a 5.51 ERA.
“John gave us more than we expected early in the season,” said Cooper, who ruled out a move to the bullpen or a shutdown for the remainder of the season. “Now he has given us what we expected of a rookie.”
With Podsednik out of action yet again, pitcher Javier Vazquez will serve as the fifth outfielder on the roster.
“(Coach) Joey (Cora) told Vazquez that if we needed somebody in an emergency, he might play right field,” Guillen said. “That’s the only place that I can play him.”
Podsednik hasn’t played since Tuesday, when he left the game because of a strained right rib cage muscle. He took part in pregame batting practice, but no date was set for his return.
“Those kinds of injuries don’t go away just like that,” Guillen said. “I had one before, and it’s a tough injury.”
Guillen considered the Seattle Mariners to be the best American League team he has seen recently.
“I like the team in Seattle, because up and down, it’s the best team defensively,” Guillen said. “They pitch well and their bullpen is pretty good and they hit.”
At the same time, Guillen won’t rule out the Red Sox, whose 79-51 record is the best in the major leagues.
“Their pitching staff is scary,” Guillen said. “We didn’t see (Josh) Beckett and (Curt) Schilling at their best (Friday), because they struggled, but I’ve always liked (their) pitching.”
Take it like a man
His team lost the first three games of the series by a combined 35-6 score, but Guillen didn’t lose his sense of humor.
“When we played in Boston, they kicked our butts,” Guillen said, likely referring to a nationally televised 11-2 loss July 21. “I said to Cooper, ‘Talk to the pitcher.’ He said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Because I want everybody in the nation to know who the darn pitching coach is.’ ”