SEATTLE – Phil Humber isn’t going anywhere now except for back into the starting rotation.
With all the debate swirling as to what the White Sox will do once Jake Peavy comes back as expected next week, manager Ozzie Guillen moved to halt a budding controversy.
“He’s staying in the rotation; he has to stay,” Guillen said, moments after Humber gave up two runs over seven innings Friday against the Mariners. “I don’t think we are going to see anything different. When Jake comes in the rotation, we will talk to [GM] Kenny [Williams] and [pitching coach Don Cooper] to see what we are going to do. But this kid has earned and deserves to be in the rotation.”
Matched up against Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez, Humber held his own. He took a shutout into the sixth inning when the Mariners broke out with RBI doubles from Milton Bradley and Justin Smoak to take a 2-1 lead. Carlos Quentin tied it a half inning later on a home run. The White Sox lost in the bottom of the ninth.
“I’ve kind of been under the weather the last couple of days and I didn’t have a whole lot to begin with but I felt like I kind of got in a groove in the middle innings here and made some pitches when I needed to,” Humber said. “There were some good defensive plays behind me. They hit some balls hard that were right at people.
“But we had a chance to win the game and as a starting pitcher that’s kind of all you can ask for. Obviously I wish I would have given up one run instead of two.”
In yet another sign of how good Humber has been, he went toe to toe with one of the best pitchers in the American League and did it when he didn’t feel at his best.
“I don’t know if it’s the flu or a cold or whatever,” he said. “I know a couple of guys have had it. I know Gavin has had it about a week ago or whatever and I probably got it from him. Herm got some medicine in me and I felt Ok out there but I didn’t really feel like I had my legs underneath me until about the fourth, fifth inning.”
The right-hander’s overall ERA dropped to 2.97, while his mark in six starts fell slightly to 2.65. But ultimately this was yet another White Sox defeat, their 18th in their last 22 games, and Humber wasn’t in the mood to celebrate.
He didn’t even want to make too much out of Guillen saying that he would get more starting opportunities.
“I don’t think about that but I feel like you earn your opportunities and every time you go out there it’s a chance to earn another one,” he said. “Whatever happens, I’m fine with. I told Coop the other day, whenever they give me the ball as a starter or reliever, whatever it is, I’ll go out there and do the best I can with it. I don’t really worry about what anybody else is thinking.”