MESA, Ariz. – With the No. 5 starting spot sitting there for the taking, Phil Humber didn’t exactly apply a strong grip on the prize.
The White Sox right-hander got the start for Jake Peavy in Thursday’s nationally televised spring training game against the Cubs and gave up seven runs on five hits with four walks in 4 1/3 innings.
It was the walk total that stood out the most. His inability to find the strike zone isn’t going to go over well with pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Ozzie Guillen.
“You allow the leadoff hitter on I think four out of five innings, it’s hard to keep them from scoring when have guys on base all the time,” Humber said. “There was a lot of traffic out there today and most of it was caused by me not throwing strikes.”
Humber, who is among the last 12 healthy pitchers remaining in major league camp still figures to make the Opening Day roster, but a role as spot starter isn’t a sure thing now. He entered Thursday’s outing as the favorite over Jeff Marquez to assume the No. 5 rotation spot until Peavy returns.
“Every opportunity you get you want to take full advantage of and today was an opportunity,” Humber said. “Obviously the results were not what I was looking for. At the same time you have to shake it off and go to the next time. I don’t think one game is going to make or break anybody especially in spring training. I’ll just get ready for the next one and try to do better.”
Humber is lined up to start in the Cactus League finale Tuesday against the Royals, but Marquez could also get the nod that day. Then again, the White Sox could put a minor leaguer in that slot and start Humber or Marquez in a minor league game.
If the fifth starter starts the fifth game of the season it would be against those same Royals. But with a day off April 4, the White Sox would be able to push back the No. 5 spot to April 10.