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Sox address curious move to recall Stewart

8/6/2011

MINNEAPOLIS -- The White Sox moved to explain why rookie newcomer Zach Stewart is starting Saturday, saying it has nothing to do with Jake Peavy, Phil Humber’s growing inning count or the desire to return to the six-man rotation.

“We want to take a look at him because for the next few days we’re going to see how he can help us this year,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Obviously, when you look at a six-man rotation, we did good with them. But it’s not in our mind now to go back to six.

“I got to wait to see how this kid pitches and looking at the way he pitches, we’re going to decide the next start or move him back to the bullpen and help the pen from now on. But I got to see how he pitches to make my decision."

There has been a rush to judgement that the White Sox have quit on the season and have decided to go young for the remainder of the year. That thinking might be a bit premature.

To make room on the active roster for Stewart, Brian Bruney was designated for assignment. The concept that the White Sox are saying “surrender” on the season is only legitimate if Bruney is clearly a better pitcher than Stewart.

Bruney struggled when he was first recalled this season, was solid for a stretch in helping with Jesse Crain’s workload and then started to struggle again. In his last outing for the White Sox he was ejected on a night when the White Sox needed him to pick up some innings in a runaway game.

But Bruney does have somewhat of a track record while Stewart does not, other than his three big-league starts earlier this season with the Blue Jays. So the timing of the move, with the White Sox 6½ games out of first place at the start of play Saturday, does seem a bit suspect.

“I never seen [Stewart], but he’s got good stuff,” Guillen said. “And he gives guys one more day of rest. After that, we got 18 games without a day off. We’ve been talking about this. And we need him in the starting rotation or the bullpen just in case we [need] a long man.”

The best option for the White Sox when they needed additional innings from their bullpen has been left-hander Will Ohman, who isn’t normally a multiple innings pitcher. Bruney was expendable after right-handed reliever Jason Frasor was acquired from the Blue Jays in the same deal that brought Stewart aboard.

Guillen said his advice to Stewart was simple.

“Just do what you’re supposed to do, have some fun out there, and we’ll take care of the rest,” he said. “You don’t come here to save us. You don’t come here to be the guy to take off to the next level. You come here to help us win games and hopefully do it.”