Thursday, April 7, 2011
Lastings Milledge out; Jeff Gray in
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- With the White Sox in need of a roster spot to add a reliever, outfielder Lastings Milledge was designated for assignment on Thursday.
The team purchased the contract of right-hander Jeff Gray, who will bring the pitching staff to 12 members for the first time this season.
After back-to-back 12-inning games in Kansas City on Tuesday and Wednesday, the bullpen had been run ragged.
"The way we played the last couple of games and the way the pitching has been used, we don't want to overuse anyone and then all of a sudden, June or July, we regret it," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That's the reason we did it."
Milledge will now go through waivers where any team can claim him. If he gets through he can then report to the minor leagues with the White Sox or he can sign with another team.
"Personally, it was very hard for me to do it," Guillen said. "When you send someone down that has nothing to do with the situation [how they are playing], that's [difficult]. I was on the plane thinking all flight how I was going to handle it. He handled it very well. I talked to Milledge about the problem we have. Unfortunately, that's part of the game. It's one of the hardest talks I had with any of the players."
The White Sox could have avoided losing Milledge to another team had they just sent him to the minor leagues once spring training ended. He was on a minor league contract so he wouldn't have had to go through waivers then. Instead, they rewarded him for his play this spring by putting him on the opening day roster, and now they can only hope he returns the favor if he makes it through waivers.
The White Sox did have a plan to start the season with 12 pitchers, but Jeff Marquez faltered down the stretch and the club went with 11 instead.
In five-plus seasons with the Mets, Nationals, Pirates and White Sox, Milledge is a .269 hitter.
Last season, Gray was 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 36 relief appearances with the Oakland Athletics and Chicago Cubs.
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.