Ventura sees injuries as a chance for new opportunities
BY TONI GINNETTI email@example.com April 28, 2013 9:21PM
With reliever Matt Thornton on the mound, Sox manager Robin Ventura calls for a pitching change in the 8th inning of the Chicago White Sox 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday April 28, 2013 at US Cellular Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: May 30, 2013 3:22PM
Trying to find silver linings in the White Sox’ April of injuries might seem illogical.
But manager Robin Ventura isn’t wont for trying.
“In any situation, it can always be worse. We bring up guys who are capable of playing. You are going to give guys opportunities. It’s how we got [Jose] Quintana last year.’’
That logic could work again if promising left-hander Hector Santiago becomes a solid replacement in the rotation for Gavin Floyd, who will miss at least two weeks with a flexor muscle strain near the right elbow.
Quintana has been the best part of the rotation so far, with a 2-0 record and 2.78 ERA. He is a major reason why the staff has a collective 2.94 ERA (2.65 for the starters and 3.53 for the bullpen).
He blossomed for the Sox last season after being recalled from Class AA Birmingham in May to help with a doubleheader in Cleveland. He debuted with 52/3 innings of scoreless relief, a first for a Sox rookie since at least 1920.
When John Danks went on the disabled list two weeks later, Quintana returned from Class AAA Charlotte to win his first career start, becoming only the third Sox pitcher since 1999 to do so.
He made 21 more starts as a fixture in the rotation.
Dylan Axelrod had similar opportunities last season and found his way into the rotation this year.
“We have a good group here and in Class AAA,’’ he said Sunday after working six innings and getting a no decision in the 8-3 loss to Tampa Bay. “We don’t get a lot of credit for our system. We don’t have the flashiest guys, but they’re guys who can get the job done.’’
Santiago hadn’t allowed an earned run in 101/3 innings before Saturday when he was summoned to replace Floyd. He gave up four runs in 32/3 innings in his first extended outing but is the best option for the Sox now.
“We have guys pitching well and [those] we have our eye on, but I’m not going to do that now,’’ Ventura said. “Right now, it’s Hector who is going to go in there.’’
The shuttle between Chicago and the minors is carrying position players as well as pitchers, but Ventura considers it an opportunity train.
“There are opportunities guys need to take advantage of,” he said. “If it doesn’t happen [with] us, there are other teams looking at these guys when they get opportunities.
“It’s up to them. They are going to get some playing time.’’
Veteran Paul Konerko said the injuries haven’t punctured the team’s confidence.
“I don’t sense anybody looking around saying we can’t win with what we have,’’ he said.
“Every team will have that span in a season when guys seem to be going down. The guys filling in have been doing a great job. We feel we’ll be fine with what we have.’’
Konerko drove in two of the Sox’ runs Sunday with his fourth home run of the season, which ties him with Hall of Famer Billy Williams for 45th place on the all-time home run list (426).
But the Sox offense delivered only five other hits, all singles, off David Price (1-2), who worked seven innings.
Alex Rios’ error in right field in the eighth with the bases loaded and two outs proved costly. Two runs scored when Rios dropped Ryan Roberts’ sinking fly ball.
“It’s going to happen, but if we’re going to get on an extended streak, you have to make those plays,’’ Ventura said.
The Sox split the four-game series with the Rays but ended their homestand at 3-5.