BALTIMORE — Robin Ventura had Jose Abreu as his starting designated hitter on Monday, but it had nothing to do with his health.
The White Sox slugger traveled home to Chicago after Sunday’s game for personal reasons and didn’t arrive in Baltimore until 3:15 p.m. on Monday.
With a long day of travel in between, Ventura wanted to give Abreu a breather while still keeping his potent bat in the lineup.
Abreu is hitting .333 with four home runs and 10 RBIs over the last 12 games for a team that was swept in four games after scoring only 14 runs against the Minnesota Twins. The White Sox manager said he hopes to spell every one of his starters during this stretch of 16 games over 16 days.
“It’s a long stretch, and you’ve got to be able to keep guys fresh,” Ventura said. “We don’t have an off day until after we get home. We have three more at home before you get an off day. You’re just trying to keep guys fresh. You can see ‘em struggling, especially when you’re losing games and guys are working hard trying to get out of it. Sometimes it's better to take a step back one day, let a guy not be in there, probably helps him more than to fight through it.”
Paul Konerko was also in the lineup on Monday to face Baltimore Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. Konerko hit sixth and played first base.
Confidence is high
Considering they have lost four straight and are a season-low six games under .500, the White Sox had the right man on the mound to get them back in the win column as Chris Sale made his 11th start of the season.
“Every night is a good night to have Chris Sale pitching,” Ventura said. “There have been great pitchers who have been the guys if you’re in a bad stretch, guys like him can help you out of it. Just stop it in its tracks. He’s that guy. He’s a No. 1 guy.”
— Ventura said the White Sox are still mulling whom to start on Thursday night, whether it's Andre Rienzo or Scott Carroll. The White Sox would only start Carroll or stick with Rienzo and aren’t likely to dip into the minors, Ventura said.
— Triple-A pitcher Erik Surkamp was named the International League player of the week for June 16-22 on Monday. Surkamp, who was claimed off waivers from San Francisco in December, went 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings at Charlotte. He allowed a run and eight hits while walking two and striking out 15.
— Reliever Javy Guerra was wearing an ice pack after Sunday’s game, but Ventura said it was preventative and Guerra is fine. Guerra threw a side session on Sunday, Ventura said. The right-hander hasn’t pitched since Tuesday at home against San Francisco. He has a 2.38 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings this season.