White Sox to use 4 starters early

CLEVELAND -- The Chicago White Sox have decided that four is greater than five and will go with a quartet of starting pitchers for as long as they can manage in the month of April.

It's not as daunting as it might sound since an off-day Monday will allow the White Sox to use four starters until April 9. That's when Phil Humber is expected to temporarily take over the No. 5 spot in the rotation for the injured Jake Peavy.

It will then be another 10 days, or April 19, before the fifth spot is needed again, thanks to an off-day on April 14.

"[Humber] will be a long reliever because we have a day off, and [Mark] Buehrle's normal spot will be [in Kansas City]," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He will be on normal rest, unless something happens here in the next couple of days. That's what we'll try to do."

Buehrle starts the opener in Cleveland Friday, followed by Edwin Jackson and John Danks, with Gavin Floyd starting in Kansas City.

The proposed rotation ends Buehrle's chance at starting both the season opener and home opener. If five different pitchers went to the mound in each of the five games on the season-opening road trip, Buehrle would have been in line to start April 7 at U.S. Cellular Field against the Rays. Now he will get two road starts before the team even plays a home game.

"They kind of asked if I minded or whatever," Buehrle said. "I said 'Look, you guys are the coaches.' Yeah, it would be nice to start Opening Day at home but whenever. I'll take the ball every five days and if we have off-days to skip Humber then I'll do it."

The left-hander, who is potentially in his final season with the White Sox, then joked that he could be risking a showering of boos when he's introduced at the home opener if he doesn't get off to a very good start.

As for how many spot starts Humber gets, it will all depend on Peavy's recovery from both his latissimus dorsi reattachment surgery last July and rotator cuff tendinitis that developed this spring.

Peavy is scheduled to throw in a game at extended spring training on Sunday and then pitch at either Double-A Birmingham or Triple-A Charlotte on April 8. Another minor league start on April 13 could get him up to 90 pitches.

With an extra day of rest he could end up making his season debut April 19 which would mean that Humber only has to cover for one start. Or the White Sox can make Peavy wait until April 24 before he returns to the big leagues.

Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.