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Alex Rios ready for a rest day

Chicagao White Sox v Kansas City Royals

Chicagao White Sox v Kansas City Royals

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The facts: 7:10, Ch. 26, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.

The pitchers: Chris Sale (17-6, 2.78 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (10-12, 5.42).

Updated: October 20, 2012 6:26AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alex Rios has missed three games all season, so manager Robin Ventura hoped to give him a day off Wednesday. But the Royals changed their rotation Tuesday, moving left-hander Bruce Chen up to Wednesday, which means Rios might have to wait until Jeremy Guthrie starts Thursday to get a rest.

“Every time I want to give him one, it never happens,’’ Ventura said.

Rios won’t turn it down.

“A day comes in handy this late in the season,’’ Rios said. “You get to refresh yourself and come strong the next day.’’

Physical and mental rest would be equally valuable, Rios said.

“We’re in a situation where every game counts, so you have to be in the game the whole time,’’ he said. “It’s not like you can get a mental break during the game.’’

Every player carries his own charger, though, just by being in a pennant race.

“It motivates you to come to the field and perform, to do something good and makes things happen,’’ Rios said. “That energizes your body and mind. That helps you to get pumped up.’’

Sale’s pitch

Chris Sale (17-6, 2.78 ERA) can be a 20-game winner if he wins his three scheduled starts beginning Wednesday. If he averages six or seven innings, he’ll finish with around 190, which once again raised the question of the first-time starter’s workload.

“We’re aware that he’s young and making the transition from the bullpen, but I don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize his career,’’ Ventura said. “He’s a competitor who wants to pitch. You’re giving him time here and there [with extra rest] to catch his breath and get stronger. We’re in a business to win games. That’s what we’re all here to do. We’re trying to do it and win at the same time. But he wants to pitch.”

Talkin’ about practice

Much is made of the Sox often taking infield practice — maybe too much, Ventura said — but they are second in baseball with a .988 fielding percentage and are in first place.

So who’s complaining?

“We’ve been winning, so they’re not going to stop now,’’ second baseman Gordon Beckham said. “It has value. I have no problem with it, and you know what? Whatever Robin says, we’re going to do.’’

Even if it cuts into the players’ clubhouse time in the hour leading up to the game.

“I remember balking at it [as a player], too, and you just get to that point where you’d not rather do it,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘But I’m the manager, so we do it.’’

On the bump

Ventura made it official and named Francisco Liriano the starter Thursday against the Royals. He will face Guthrie, who has not allowed an earned run against the Sox in 231/3 innings.

Luis Mendoza, the Royals’ scheduled starter Wednesday, was scratched because of strep throat, which pushed Chen up a day and prevented the Sox from missing Guthrie in the series.

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