With Carrasco gone, relievers need to fill gap
Dependable long-relief option missing from 'pen
CHICAGO -- Who will replace D.J. Carrasco?
It's not a question that figured to be of major concern for the White Sox as they analyzed their 2010 American League Central title chances. But the White Sox middle reliever played a valuable role not currently occupied by any hurler on the active roster.
The White Sox are depending on their starting rotation consistently working deep into games. If there's more than a blip on that starting radar, though, it might take two or even three pitchers to fill the job Carrasco regularly accomplished.
"We will miss D.J.," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. "He was a special guy. He could take the ball and go three innings and come back and throw three more the next day. Those guys are undervalued at times."
"D.J. was very valuable to us last year," White Sox left-handed setup man Matt Thornton said. "This year, it's hard to tell what's going to happen. Will he be that needed anyway? There will be days where starters get knocked out early and need someone to eat innings. But they were trying to put the best team out there now and that's the decision they made that was best for the team."
Carrasco led AL relievers with 89 1/3 innings pitched last year, but the White Sox non-tendered him. The rotation of Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Freddy Garcia factored into the equation, with short-start risks such as Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon no longer around, and the White Sox ultimately opted to keep infielder Jayson Nix over a 13th pitcher and long man such as Greg Aquino.
Sergio Santos said he's built up to go two innings if needed, and there might be some days where Scott Linebrink or Tony Pena get called on for that role. The ideal plan is to have the long relief needed as little as possible.
"Some days, you really will need the starters, ride him a little longer than normally," Thornton said. "They might have to take their lumps here or there because we don't have Carrasco. It's the same for the relievers. Some days, we have to pick it up and clean up the mess. We'll have to eat an extra inning sometimes."
"Hopefully, we don't get blown out that often," Pierzynski said.
Konerko reflects on Opening Day
While much of the Opening Day hoopla focuses on Mark Buehrle's franchise-record eighth start, Paul Konerko extended a franchise record of his own. Konerko made his 10th straight Opening Day start at first base and 12th overall, having started twice previously at designated hitter.
Even with all of this Opening Day experience behind him, the excitement is not lost on the White Sox captain.
"You still get butterflies. It's still a great thing. Our club does a good job with it, as most of them do," Konerko said. "It's still a lot of fun. At the same time, when Opening Day is over, most guys are kind of happy to get on with the season.
"There's so much build up to it, and that's really not how our game is. Our game is a more everyday thing. To get built up like a football game, it's kind of a weird thing. But Opening Day is Opening Day. There's nothing like it."
Konerko admitted one Opening Day doesn't stick out over another. But he quickly added that you always remember where it all began from year to year.
"Whether it was on the road in Texas or in Chicago, you kind of always know," Konerko said. "Sometimes you can't always remember the results of the game, or how you did. But you remember where you were.
"They blend in a little bit over the last few years because it seems like we were playing in the American League Central a lot. But there were years where we opened in Seattle or Texas; that sticks out more when you open up somewhere out of the division."
Krause joins the White Sox
CHICAGO -- Jerry Krause, the presiding general manager over six Chicago Bulls NBA championships and the scout who recommended the White Sox acquire Ozzie Guillen from San Diego before the 1985 season, has rejoined the organization in a scouting capacity.
"Very, very smart man," Guillen said. "He gambled [by recommending] trading for me. And he won.
"He's a brilliant guy and a great baseball person. I hope he finds another Ozzie Guillen. We need him. I'm glad he's back home with the organization."
Third to first
Sergio Santos did not pitch in Monday's 6-0 victory but still thoroughly enjoyed his first Major League Opening Day. "I tell you what, it's exciting," Santos said. "It's everything I hoped it would be and more." ... Mark Buehrle retired 10 or more batters in a row for the 49th time in his career. ... Guillen was worried Buehrle was injured after making his spectacular play in the fifth, as Pierzynski motioned to the dugout for Buehrle to be checked out after deflecting Lou Marson's grounder with his left shin. "I thought it would be worse than what it was," Guillen said. "It's going to be sore for a couple of days." Buehrle joked in the postgame press conference how his shin was fractured and he was "out six to eight weeks" but then flashed a smile and said X-rays were negative. ... Ken "Hawk" Harrelson began his 26th year broadcasting for the White Sox and 35th year overall in the television business. He has been involved with Major League Baseball for parts of seven decades.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.