Notes: Sox tinker with rotation
Danks will go in Thursday finale; Floyd gets spot start
CHICAGO -- Somewhere around 12 hours before the latest official decision concerning the White Sox rotation was handed down Saturday morning, John Danks made his feelings known in regard to getting a start this week against the Rangers in Texas.
"Obviously, it would be awesome to make that start, going home and having friends and family there," said Danks, who was the ninth selection overall by Texas in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. He was traded to the White Sox, as part of the five-player Brandon McCarthy deal, this past December.
"It has nothing to do with the Rangers or anything like that," Danks added. "I have a lot of people there and it would be fun to throw in front of them. But it's not my decision to make."
The native of Round Rock, Texas, had his wish granted. Pitching coach Don Cooper laid out the upcoming starting plans for the White Sox, with Danks getting the call for the Rangers series finale Thursday night. The rookie will be preceded by Jon Garland on Wednesday and Gavin Floyd in a spot-start role in the opener Tuesday.
Cooper said the team didn't feel comfortable with Garland coming back on three days' rest after throwing 110 pitches in Friday's first-game loss, and the White Sox are taking a cautionary approach with Danks' first full season in the Majors and his growing innings total. Despite Floyd throwing 60 pitches on Friday, in comparison to Danks' 57, Floyd gets the nod on Tuesday.
Mark Buehrle, Javier Vazquez and Jose Contreras will serve as the pitching lineup in Cleveland next weekend, with Garland opening the three-game set in Detroit after an off-day on Sept. 3.
"Right now, I believe, we are going to go back with the older guys," said Cooper, meaning Buehrle, Vazquez and Contreras will follow Garland in Detroit and then at home against Minnesota on Sept. 7. "That fifth day after the off-day is still to be determined.
"We'll see how everything goes, and then we will make a determination if it's Danks or Gavin and don't forget the rosters have increased. They all become possibilities."
If Danks gets that start on Sept. 8, he will have eight days in between starts. According to Cooper, there are no plans to completely shut down Danks in September and there certainly are no plans to use him in relief.
"This kid has not been shielded in any way, shape or form," said Cooper of Danks, who has not posted a victory since July 16 at Cleveland. "He hasn't been going good recently but don't forget all the good things he did early. A lot of people in this town look at numbers, and numbers to a degree are important.
"He gave us more early. Now, he's giving us what we might have expected from a rookie."
Injury update: Jim Thome took treatment during both games on Friday after suffering back spasms before the day portion of the split doubleheader. Thome was available to pinch-hit on Saturday and could be back in the starting lineup Sunday.
"It usually takes a day or two [to go away]," said Thome, who has 32 career home runs against Boston. "I felt good today when I got up."
Scott Podsednik still was considered day-to-day with a strained right rib-cage muscle, but manager Ozzie Guillen didn't want to rush the recovery for such a tenuous area. With backup catcher Toby Hall as the only healthy reserve on the White Sox bench, Guillen mentioned Saturday how Vazquez could be used in right field as an emergency measure.
"[Bench coach] Joey [Cora] talked to him," said Guillen of Vazquez. "We have someone out there, just in case."
Final exam: Guillen didn't initially believe chairman Jerry Reinsdorf spent nearly 30 minutes Friday morning doing an interview on WSCR, 670-AM, the White Sox flagship station. But the White Sox manager smiled upon hearing the high 'A-'grade Reinsdorf gave to Guillen when asked about the job he has done during trying times.
"Well, thank you," Guillen said. "He's the one who pays me."
What grade would Guillen give himself, with the White Sox sitting 16 games under .500 entering Saturday's contest and all but officially eliminated from the playoff picture?
"A 'Z,' because I know what I'm supposed to do is win," said Guillen, drawing a laugh from the assembled media with his exaggerated low grade. "It's not easy to be managing this ballclub. It's a struggle. It's not easy to make those guys go out and play every day.
"This year is the hardest year I ever have in my career, even when I was a player, as a player and a coach -- and not because we're losing. I feel like we let a lot of people down. I think we have a better ballclub than what we show and I take full responsibility."
Guillen echoed a familiar mantra during his reign in that the players deserve credit for success, but the manager gets the blame for lack of success. As the face of the ballclub for at the very least one more year, with the White Sox holding an option on Guillen for 2009, that premise will continue.
"At the end of the day, it's Ozzie the manager, and every manager of the ballclub is the one they're going to blame," Guillen said. "Jerry has his opinion, and I have mine. I let him and [general manager] Kenny [Williams] down. Hopefully, next year, we get better."
Around the horn: During four split doubleheaders played by the White Sox this season, they have been swept by Boston and Minnesota, they swept the Tigers and split with the Yankees. ... The White Sox bullpen has a 2.73 ERA over the last 17 games but allowed 10 runs in 7 2/3 innings during Friday's doubleheader. ... The White Sox need to hit 56 home runs in their last 34 games to finish with 200 home runs for a record eighth straight season. ... Hip hop recording artist and Chicago native Kanye West made an appearance at Saturday's contest.
Down on the farm: Jack Egbert fanned 11 over six innings, allowing one run on three hits, but didn't factor in Double-A Birmingham's 10-5 loss to Montgomery. The right-hander has a 12-8 record, 2.89 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 152 2/3 innings this season. ... John Shelby's triple and two singles during Class A Kannapolis' 7-2 loss to Greenville gave him hits in 26 of his last 27 games. Shelby is batting .369 with 34 RBIs in that span. ... Juan Moreno struck out seven over seven scoreless innings, but the right-hander finished with a no-decision in Great Falls' 5-2 loss to Helena.
On deck: Vazquez (11-6, 3.66) makes his 26th start of the season and his second against the Red Sox during Sunday afternoon's homestand finale at 1:05 CT. Vazquez has a 7-1 record with a 2.94 ERA in his last 12 starts and stands tied for eighth in the American League with 147 strikeouts.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.