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Saturday, May 7, 2011
White Sox have options with pitchers

By Doug Padilla

SEATTLE – The White Sox are likely days away from making some interesting player personnel decisions.

Once thought to be some no-brainer changes once Jake Peavy came off the disabled list, it now looks like Phil Humber won’t be coming out of the rotation after all and Jeff Gray could end up staying on the roster.

Gray, who was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in April as the pitching staff expanded to 12 members, was always the logical choice to head back out to make room for Peavy. But that was before he started giving the White Sox some key innings out of his long relief role and posting a 3.48 ERA in the process.

“Very good. Very good,” manager Ozzie Guillen said about Gray, repeating himself for emphasis. “That’s why we are very, very, very careful about what we are doing. I think this guy, every time we put him out there, he’s very aggressive. I like that. He throws strikes. He seems like he don’t care about what happens out there. I like it a lot.”

So if Gray isn’t the odd man out, who could it be? The White Sox are expected to take a long look at Chris Sale, who has been inconsistent in the early going.

Just this spring, the young left-hander was being considered for the closer role. But he has struggled so much that Guillen elected to use Matt Thornton for two innings Friday night against the left-handed heavy Mariners lineup even though Sale was available.

Another situation not on Sale’s side is the fact that the bullpen has three left-handers in the late innings to set up a closer. That many left-handed arms in relief made more sense when the plan was to have one of them closing.

As for Humber, he secured his spot in the rotation after allowing three hits or less in each of his last three starts. With a string of 20 games in 20 days starting after Thursday’s off day, the White Sox figure to start that run with a six-man rotation, delaying the decision on which starter becomes the odd man out.