Notes: Pitchers getting early-season rest
Sox hurlers rebounding from tough starts; Molina makes start
OAKLAND -- Bad weather and three off-days spread out basically through the first two weeks of the season have conspired to give White Sox starting pitchers a little unwanted rest in between early starts.
But according to manager Ozzie Guillen, John Danks' impressive debut Sunday against Minnesota has Guillen leaning toward keeping the five-man rotation intact.
"A lot of people are against that many days off, and I guess the more rest you get, some people get rusty or erratic," said Guillen of the rotation prior to Wednesday's series finale with Oakland. "But I like the way Danks throws the ball.
"I like what I see, and I don't want to change that. We don't all of a sudden want to bring this kid up and then expect him to do well. It won't do any good for anyone. That's why we try to keep it the same way."
If given their preference, veteran hurlers such as Jon Garland, Mark Buehrle, Jose Contreras and Javier Vazquez would chose to pitch on normal four days' rest -- especially coming into the season fresh and strong. But Garland's start Tuesday night was six days after his first trip to the mound last Wednesday, and the same break will be coming Vazquez's way prior to Friday's series opener in Cleveland.
Contreras actually had an entire week without a start before earning the victory Monday with six solid innings. According to Vazquez, the longer stretch of on-field inactivity causes adjustments to be made in a pitcher's daily workout schedule.
For example, Vazquez still sticks with one side session in between starts. But as far as lifting and arm work, he will space it out from the second and fourth day to the second, fourth and fifth.
"I know what I have to do to prepare myself when I have four days, five days or six days [off]," Vazquez said. "Early in the season, you kind of want to stay in the five days. But there's nothing you can do about it.
"Everyone knows the five of us will go every five games. We just have to deal with it. When it's six days without pitching, you have to change your routine a little bit."
As Guillen pointed out Wednesday, extra rest for the starters certainly didn't hurt the White Sox during the 2005 playoffs.
"When we went to the playoffs, we had 10 days off and we pitched well," said Guillen with a laugh. "I think the more rest I have, the better. But I'm not a pitching coach and I never pitched. Everyone feels different."
A call to arms: The panic was palpable among the White Sox faithful following rough starts from Contreras and Garland to start the season, followed by Buehrle's injury-shortened stint against Cleveland. But after giving up 20 runs on 26 hits in their first two games, the White Sox staff has a 2.01 ERA over its last seven games, allowing 34 hits in 53 2/3 innings.
White Sox starters own a 2.12 ERA over that stretch, with five consecutive quality starts, putting to rest some of the immediate concerns.
"At some point in 162 games, you will start 32 or 33 games, [and] you have your tough games," said Vazquez, who worked 6 2/3 scoreless innings in his first start Saturday. "You never want it to be the first game, but hopefully we can be as consistent as we want."
Where Contreras' season-opening disaster is concerned, Vazquez certainly can relate. In 2005, Vazquez allowed seven runs on 10 hits to the Cubs over 2 2/3 innings as Arizona's Opening Day starter and actually had a 6.11 ERA in April. The right-hander bounced back to produce a 2.15 ERA in May of that season.
What a relief: The 1.65 ERA posted by David Aardsma during September and October last season with the Cubs obviously was a harbinger of good things to come with the White Sox. The right-hander picked up the win Wednesday with one scoreless inning of relief, fanning one and, in the process, moving into a second-place tie with Kansas City's Joel Peralta for the second most strikeouts by a reliever in the Majors at nine.
Aardsma has been perfect since allowing one run in two innings of relief on Opening Day, putting himself into the heart of late-inning work for the White Sox.
"That's something you want to make them do," said Aardsma, who has a 1.29 ERA over seven innings. "You don't want them to go, 'Oh well, he can only be a couple-inning guy early in the game.'
"You want them to put you in the game in tough situations. I think I've shown, at least early on, that I'm comfortable and I don't let the pressure get to me. I'm getting ahead of guys, forcing them to make outs, forcing them to do something with the bat."
Down on the farm: Plenty of solid pitching alternatives continue to pop up for the White Sox at the Minor League level, with Adam Russell taking his turn at the forefront Wednesday afternoon. The big right-hander, who made his presence known during Spring Training, worked six scoreless innings, striking out eight and allowing six hits, during Double-A Birmingham's 5-1 victory over Mobile in the first game of a doubleheader sweep. Chris Getz launched his first home run, while Thomas Collaro had three hits and three RBIs. Getz hit another home run in the nightcap, in support of Gio Gonzalez, during the Barons' 5-2 victory. Gonzalez struck out six over 5 1/3 innings, with Dewon Day picking up his third save ... Chris Carter homered for the second straight game, driving in two, and Brandon Allen doubled and drove home two as part of Class A Kannapolis' 8-5 victory at Rome on Tuesday. Ricky Brooks earned the victory, striking out six over 5 2/3 innings.
Around the horn: With Guillen using Brian Anderson in center and Gustavo Molina behind the plate on Wednesday, every position player now has started at least one game. Both players finished hitless, but Anderson saved a run with a diving catch on Bobby Kielty's bid for a two-out hit in the fifth, and Buehrle credited Molina for calling an exceptional game ... The White Sox are hitting .210 and have scored 19 runs in their last six games ... With his three appearances at McAfee Coliseum, Jenks has now pitched in every American League ballpark.
On-deck: After Thursday's off-day, Vazquez opens a three-game set at Jacobs Fields on Friday with a scheduled first pitch of 6:05 p.m. CT. Fausto Carmona gets the call for Cleveland.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.