CHICAGO -- Thursday's off-day and Tuesday's weather cancellation in Cleveland has provided a nice respite for the young relievers in the White Sox bullpen, currently leading the American League with a 1.76 ERA. But the White Sox find themselves in a stretch of 17 straight games until the next break on April 30.
Rookies Addison Reed, Hector Santiago and Nate Jones, as well as second-year man Zach Stewart, will be watched in regard to their workloads, according to pitching coach Don Cooper. But it doesn't sound as if they will be babied or overly protected.
"Listen, we'll use guys every day in wining situations," Cooper said. "If there's a guy that we are asking a lot of, maybe three in a row, if they pitch that third day in a row, maybe we will give them a day or two off automatically.
"We are playing the games as they come. Each guy knows where he's going to be pitching. We want their availability every day, but we also know the guys we'd like to give a day off if we can."
All four of these pitchers have less than 68 days of big league service time. But they are viewed more as Major League contributors than young unknowns.
"They are all here because we feel like they can help us win," Cooper said. "We have [three] rookies. There's going to be some ups and some downs. We've got to keep the downs to a minimum. But each one of them is throwing like a Major Leaguer."
Thornton confident White Sox can compete
CHICAGO -- The 2012 version of the White Sox is not a team big on making bold proclamations regarding its season-long fortunes.
So when Matt Thornton was asked prior to Saturday's game if the White Sox were as good as the American League Central favorite Tigers, the veteran reliever chose to take a big picture approach to his response.
"We are as good as anyone in baseball, I think," said Thornton, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the 5-1 win. "No doubt. If you don't think you are as good as everyone in baseball, then we are kind of wasting our time here. We are going to go out there and give it our all every time.
"I don't think you worry about that kind of stuff quite yet. Yesterday was a great game for us. We pitched well. Our defense was amazing and we had clutch hitting. That's what it takes to win games, period. You are working out there trying to do what you need to do to win games."
Thornton admitted that the addition of Prince Fielder obviously makes an already solid Detroit lineup even tougher from top to bottom. And Most Valuable Player candidates such as Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander give the Tigers a little extra dimension. Then again, the White Sox have Paul Konerko, and if Adam Dunn and Alex Rios can return to their old form, Thornton pointed out that the White Sox would have a pretty potent middle as well.
"They have a great team," Thornton said. "But at the same time, we feel if we go out there and play our game and don't beat ourselves, we are going to be in every game against them."
One mantra of the Robin Ventura regime has been to focus on the game at hand and not much more. So, the White Sox manager has spent more time figuring out the avenue to be traveled for his team to find success, as opposed to how it matches up with the vaunted Tigers.
"You can't get too far ahead," Ventura said. "The season has too many momentum swings and ups and downs. I'm worried more about what we're thinking and feeling right now."
McEwing not afraid to be aggressive
CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko has a plethora of top-notch big league skills, but world-class speed is not one of them. Yet, there was the White Sox captain racing home from first base on A.J. Pierzynski's sixth-inning triple in Friday's 5-2 victory, barely beating a relay throw home from Tigers second baseman Ryan Raburn.
It was third-base coach Joe McEwing who forced the Tigers to make the perfect play at the plate by sending Konerko. And McEwing intends to be aggressive with his approach in sending runners, although that aggressiveness has spread across the White Sox baserunning approach under manager Robin Ventura.
"You want to push the envelope. You want teams to know you want to be aggressive," said McEwing, who played with the same high energy. "It puts a lot of pressure on defense when you are aggressive, baserunning-wise.
"We've done a real good job as a ballclub so far of guys going hard the whole time. That puts a lot of pressure on the defense and forces them to make mistakes at times."
McEwing gave Konerko credit for going hard the whole time into third. He also knew the game situation, how many outs there were and saw how far out Raburn had to go for the relay.
"He made a good throw, but you've got to take those chances," McEwing said. "We came out on the positive side."
High level of defense can build momentum
CHICAGO -- Spectacular defensive plays by left fielder Dayan Viciedo and the double-play combination of Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham saved at least three runs on Friday in the a 5-2 victory over the Tigers. It's those sorts of tremendous individual efforts that can end up becoming a big push for the White Sox as a whole.
Ventura gave credit to Viciedo for his hard work in learning left field, which follows third base and right field as his positions with the White Sox.
"It has been a lot of work and it hasn't been comfortable for him, but he's getting better every time he goes out there," Ventura said. "With the defense that he played yesterday, that's stuff that bonds a team and raises the level that's kind of expected.
"He adjusted pretty good last year seeing him in right field. It's different. Not everybody likes one position or the other. He said he'd do it and that's what I'm going by."
Third to first
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said it will be "a while" before he makes any sort of lineup changes based on hitters' struggles.
"It's more of their approach than it is what the numbers are," Ventura said.
The White Sox/Cleveland postponement from April 10 has been rescheduled as part of a May 7 day-night doubleheader. The makeup game with start at 12:05 p.m. CT with the regularly scheduled game set for 6:05 p.m. at Progressive Field. In celebrating Jackie Robinson Day on Sunday, the White Sox will have a special first pitch honoring four generations of African-American contributions to baseball. All White Sox players, coaches and manager Robin Ventura will wear No. 42 in honor of Robinson. The contest also marks the debut of the Sunday red pinstriped throwback uniform and red caps commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1972 White Sox. Those throwbacks will be worn during every Sunday home game. Gavin Floyd improved to 7-2 with a 3.48 ERA lifetime against the Tigers following Saturday's 5-1 victory. The White Sox have homered in four straight games and six of their first seven.