White Sox prolong six-man rotation

BOSTON -- The Chicago White Sox's six-man starting staff will live to see at least another turn through the rotation and could survive until the All-Star break.

The White Sox have been using six starters in succession since Jake Peavy returned from the disabled list May 11. The plan was to go back to a five-man staff after Thursday's off day, but the current setup was given a reprieve by manager Ozzie Guillen before Wednesday's game against the Boston Red Sox.

"Yeah we're going to give it one more shot because the way (Phil) Humber threw (Tuesday)," Guillen said. "We're going to leave it like that right now and for the next homestand in Chicago. If something goes wrong then we'll change it but for right now it's working pretty good."

In a slight adjustment, Peavy and John Danks will swap spots this time through the rotation. Peavy will pitch on five days rest Sunday against Detroit, while Danks will get seven days of down time before pitching Monday against Seattle.

That move wasn't done for matchup purposes, with Guillen saying he wanted Danks to get an extended breather after struggling against the Blue Jays on Sunday.

It has become clear that the White Sox had always targeted Humber as the guy to move into long relief once the six-man plan came to an end, but the right-hander has continually made a case to remain a starter.

His latest stirring start came when he gave up four runs over seven-plus innings against the Red Sox on Tuesday. He actually held May's top hitting club to just one run over the first six innings before tiring as he got into the 90-pitch range.

A major concern moving forward, and a reason the White Sox had previously targeted Thursday as the day to end the six-man rotation, are upcoming off days. There is another on June 13 and more on June 23 and 27. It could leave some starters waiting eight days to pitch.

So far, though, the extended rest hasn't been an issue, and even though it could cost the pitchers a couple of starts by the end of the season, nobody is complaining.

"It don't seem any different," Mark Buehrle said. "I joked that if we'd actually throw on five days' rest (again), it might seem like short rest instead of normal time. We're still getting work in and playing long toss, it just gives you an extra day to feel fresher. Some days you feel better on Day 4 than Day 5 and sometimes better on Day 6. It's just really a week-by-week case."

Without being prompted, Guillen mentioned the staff is thinking about taking the six-man rotation through the end of the first half.

"After the All-Star break we have a lot of off days, maybe 12 days for guys without pitching," Guillen said. "Then it changes a little bit. Before the All-Star break I want those guys to catch up and breathe for the long stretch.

"But I think for (after) the All-Star break in the beginning we should go with five because some guys will be spending 10 days without pitching. Obviously they'll be in the bullpen and throwing on the side and stuff but it's not the same."

Another issue Guillen has is Jesse Crain getting overworked in the bullpen because of the six-man rotation. With Tony Pena struggling before he went on the disabled list and Sergio Santos now being used as the closer, Crain was the only late-inning right-hander in close games and was getting a lot of work.

Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.