MINNEAPOLIS -- J.J. Putz exited Thursday's 11-0 victory over the Twins with what the reliever described as patella inflammation in his right knee.
Putz literally walked off the field in the eighth inning after walking Michael Cuddyer, departing just one batter after White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and head athletic trainer Herm Schneider came to the mound to check on him.
"Yeah, I felt like I could get through the inning," Putz said. "It just didn't feel mechanically that I could push off. That's when I walked off.
"It didn't feel like I could push off and drive. I figured it was better to stop then."
According to Putz, he tweaked the knee while playing catch on Wednesday but didn't think it was that big of a deal.
"When I got out there and really tried to push, I wasn't able to," Putz said. "The doctor checked it out and structurally everything felt strong. It's a little inflammation under the patella. Some anti-inflammatory [medication] should calm it down.
"I don't think it's a huge deal. It probably could have been had we not shut it down when we did."
While Putz is listed as day-to-day, Bobby Jenks appears to have returned to his closer's role. He pitched the ninth on Thursday, striking out two.
"He threw the ball well today," Guillen said. "We're going to count on him."
Pierre a perfectionist in all facets
MINNEAPOLIS -- The 48 stolen bases produced by Juan Pierre lead the Major Leagues as of the conclusion to Thursday night's 11-0 victory for the White Sox over the Twins in Thursday's series finale .
His .424 average over an eight-game hit streak, including three hits on Thursday, has raised Pierre's overall season numbers to a .277 mark. And the lightning-quick left fielder has caught pretty much everything hit to him.
Yet, Pierre the perfectionist is not satisfied.
"I just never am," said the 33-year-old veteran. "My average could be a lot better. On-base [percentage] could be better. Stealing percentage could be better. Defense, everything.
"That's why I'm out here every day early doing my work. Until I bat 1.000 or have a 1.000 fielding percentage and 1.000 stolen base percentage, that's when I'll be satisfied. That's my motivation to keep going and try to be the best, and never lose sight of the winning."
This season has not been an easy one for Pierre, who came over with a few questions as to how he would translate as a leadoff hitter during his first year in the American League. Hitting only .193 in April, while the team struggled mightily, didn't help quell those concerns.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen knew there were no worries over the course of a full season with Pierre. In fact, Guillen explained Thursday that he would like Pierre to once again serve as a Spring Training tutor to Jared Mitchell, the team's 2009 top pick in the First-Year Player Draft and heir apparent in the lineup's top spot, who was sidelined by an ankle injury in 2010.
"Juanie is the same guy when he struggles that he is when hitting," said Guillen, who won a World Series with Pierre as the Marlins' third-base coach in 2003. "It's amazing. We need a guy like that to make us go.
"He's doing it since the first day we got him. That's the reason we got him. One thing, the guy takes care of himself. He goes out there and knows who he is facing and what he does and he's not afraid to do it."
Sale continues to excel and learn
MINNEAPOLIS -- Chris Sale left college more than two months ago, but it doesn't mean the learning process on his new job has stopped for the 21-year-old.
It just so happens Sale's employment takes place in the middle of the race for the American League Central title, with Sale being used by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen as his second left-hander out of the bullpen.
"I'm just seeing how Major League Baseball works," said Sale, who was called up from the Minors two weeks ago, after being picked by the White Sox in the first round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. "I'm looking at how different people go about their business.
"I can take some useful information from everyone. I see what they did when they were my age and things like that, how they handle that. It's a great experience."
Sale's experience has been enhanced due to his unblemished performance in five games. Wednesday's effort capped off that big league start, as he fanned Minnesota's Joe Mauer on three sliders and Jim Thome, giving him six strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings.
The starting rotation eventually will be Sale's calling, possibly as early as 2010, but most likely in 2011. In the interim, he enjoys the excitement of learning relief for a contending team.
"It's one of those things where you don't have a certain amount of days between starts," Sale said. "You are up every day, regardless of whether or not you threw an inning the day before or you haven't thrown in five days. I just try to keep my body ready to throw every day. That's the fun in it."
All good but the end result
MINNEAPOLIS -- Before the White Sox embarked on Wednesday's 7-6 loss to the Twins, a second straight heartbreaker, hitting coach Greg Walker presented an accurate summation of Tuesday's exciting loss by the same score.
"[Tuesday's] game was one of the more competitive, better played games I've ever watched," Walker said. "It's a shame we came out on the short end."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen feels the same way about his team's two consecutive hard-fought setbacks to the American League Central leaders. The key description in that previous sentence would be "hard-fought."
After losing two out of three at home to Detroit last weekend, Guillen pointed out that the White Sox were not playing with enough energy. That energy clearly picked up with the trip to Minneapolis, although the results didn't change, leaving them as far back as any second-place team has been in the division this season.
"We came in here knowing how important it was, and you look at the games," Guillen said. "I guarantee everybody who comes to the game, they were satisfied. But if you were a White Sox fan or member of the White Sox organization, you weren't happy. You look at it in baseball terms, it was a very, very good two games.
"Very competitive and aggressive all the way to the end. As a baseball fan, I was very pleased about those two games. If you are a White Sox fan, you go home empty and very upset and very disappointed."
Guillen's goal is for his team to stay competitive while chasing the Twins, and make the final three games between the two, scheduled from Sept. 14-16 at U.S. Cellular Field, meaningful.
"If we continue to compete and play the game we want, I think everything will turn around and go back to our side," Guillen said. "My expectation is to be there at the end of the season."
Andruw working to contribute with bat
MINNEAPOLIS -- The three-run shot launched by Andruw Jones in the second inning Wednesday off Twins starter Francisco Liriano was not simply a good swing by a longtime power hitter off a mistake pitch. Jones has been working hard with White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker to improve his .211 average.
"Walk told me to spread out and hit like I used to hit in Atlanta," Jones said. "I've been working on that, and the last two games, I've felt really good at the plate. I've been putting good swings on the ball."
Jones entered Thursday 4-for-7 with two home runs, one double and four RBIs in his last two games.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.