The White Sox have their 2011 home opener Thursday as they host the Tampa Bay Rays for a four-game set.
With Adam Dunn out of the lineup, the White Sox offense will look a lot different than it did the first four games. It’s not bad this early in the season to mix and match to get guys a day off here and there, so losing Dunn for less than a week is certainly not a detrimental blow to the club.
Sure, Teahen was pretty terrible defensively, but he’s been rotting away on the bench since spring training ended. Let him loosen up.
Lastings Milledge was designated for assignment Thursday to make room for Jeff Gray, another White Sox reliever.
A very adept Rays pitching staff (which includes the 2010 Cy Young runner-up) is in town, and though the revamped lineup is much less daunting, it can still explode to its full potential at any minute.
SouthsideShowdown.com has teamed up with the folks over at RaysColoredGlasses.com to further discuss the series.
White Sox probable starters:
Thurs. April 7:
Edwin Jackson (1-0, 3.00 ERA) – Jackson had just one bad inning in his first start when the defense let him down against the Indians.
David Price (0-1, 5.14 ERA)
Fri. April 8:
John Danks (0-1, 3.00 ERA) – One pitch was the difference in Danks’ eight-strikeout debut. He gave up a two-run homer in six innings, but that was enough to hand him his first loss. The long ball has been Danks’ only weakness through spring training and into the regular season. Of the 13 runs he’s yielded (2011 Cactus League + regular season), 11 have scored on home runs.
James Shields (0-1, 2.45 ERA)
Sat. April 9:
Phil Humber (0-0, 9.00 ERA) – Because of the off-day Monday and Jake Peavy still not ready to go, the White Sox will probably utilize their No. 5 starter, Phil Humber, for the first time. In two bullpen appearances, Humber settled down against the Royals after a shaky debut in Cleveland.
Wade Davis (0-1, 5.68 ERA)
Sun. April 10:
Gavin Floyd (0-0, 5.14 ERA) – Floyd needed a more solid first outing to get some confidence early in the season. He’s susceptible to being hit around, but if he’s on his game, he’s lights-out.
Ben Ice of RCG and I swapped a few questions for the other to consider. Here’s what we came up with:
BI: Which Carlos Quentin do you expect to see this year? The 36 HR, 100 RBI, .287 BA 2008 version, or the 21/56/.236 2009 edition? How important is he to success of the team this year?
TM: I am completely confident when I say that 2011 Carlos Quentin will produce numbers much similar to his 2008 output. He came into camp with a positive outlook on things and has open communication lines with the veterans in the clubhouse like Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, so the moment he hits a slump, he’ll at least have support to help him keep his head on his shoulders – the big roadblock in his career.
His teammates need to be there for him because he is one of several crucial elements to the offense. As the No. 6 hitter, he is the difference between a tough lineup and a scary lineup. He tore the cover off the ball in spring training and it’s bleeding over into April. Confidence can help Quentin achieve some most valuable things.
BI: Will a closer emerge for the Southsiders, or is it destined to be a CBC?
TM: Matt Thornton is Ozzie Guillen’s closer. There is no question about it. Even before he signed the big contract extension last month, he had earned it with his service. In his sixth season with the Sox, he’s got a 3.18 earned run average in a White Sox uniform to go with a 10.1 k/9 rate.
Until Thornton gives Ozzie a reason to find a new closer, he’s the guy. But remember, Guillen has dealt with BOBBY JENKS. It’s going to take a lot for Thornton to lose his job. With a bullpen full of potential closers, Sergio Santos may become the No. 2 option to shake hands after the game – he hasn’t allowed a run in 2011 (spring training included). He and Thornton are about the only shutdown guys right now.
BI: What will the White Sox need to do to win the AL Central in 2011?
TM: What every team needs – pitching. Healthy Jake Peavy is a start. Floyd needs to be better than a .500 starter, Edwin Jackson needs to be a 15-win guy. Buehrle needs to be good Buehrle more often than note. If John Danks keeps the ball in the park, he’s a dark horse for the Cy Young.
Ample runs will cross the board if Gordon Beckham and Quentin come as advertised. Juan Pierre is the hardest worker in the clubhouse, so unless injuries ravage the team, I expect good things from him, Paul Konerko and Dunn.
They stay healthy, they’re division champs.
To see what Ben had to say about how the Rays will handle the White Sox, check it out over at RaysColoredGlasses.com.