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Sox’ Humber could be thrown in bullpen


Blue Jays pitcher Marc Rzepczynski reacts after he failed beJuan Pierre first base ninth inning. On play first baseman Juan

Blue Jays pitcher Marc Rzepczynski reacts after he failed to beat Juan Pierre to first base in the ninth inning. On the play, first baseman Juan Rivera threw the ball away, allowing two runs to score. | Chris Young~AP

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Updated: July 3, 2011 1:44PM



Phil Humber has the lowest ERA (2.85) among White Sox starters. But it’s possible he’ll go to the bullpen when the Sox shelve the six-man rotation. A decision could come in the next few days.

Who goes won’t be a “worst of the bunch” scenario.

“We have to know if this guy can pitch out of the bullpen, how long it will take to get loose,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said. “There are so many things to go over with [pitching coach Don Cooper] to see about who is the best guy to go there. If Humber has to go there, that’s the way it is. We talk about a few players.’’

Humber has 24 relief appearances in the majors, and Edwin Jackson had 22 for Tampa Bay in 2006. John Danks (0-7, 4.34) would put four lefties in the bullpen, unless rookie Chris Sale was sent to the minors.

Vet perspective

Captain Paul Konerko has seen it all in 12 seasons in the majors, so an 81/2-game deficit in the standings in May means nothing to him.

“Listen, I was on the 2005 team that was up 15 games Aug. 1 and saw that go all the way down to nothing,’’ Konerko said Thursday. “So, in my mind, anything is possible.’’

The Sox were World Series champs that season. On paper, they were considered a contender during spring training, but a 24-28 start, coupled with a 30-17 start for the Indians, has changed a lot of minds.

It will take more than getting Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham to find their hitting strokes, Konerko said.

“It’s not all about the numbers,’’ Konerko said. “There are things between the numbers we can do better — on the bases, the little things that create more runs. We need to do a better job when we don’t have everything going. Instead of scraping out two runs, scrape out four. It’s possible to do. We just need to be better at it.’’

Having won four of five from the Indians with 12 left to play against them means a lot.

‘‘This trip [which continues in Boston] is an important trip to get through May eight or nine behind,’’ Konerko said. “Staying right where we’re at or better, you have four months to go with a ton of head-to-heads left. It’s certainly possible.’’

Warming up

Sale has added a couple of mph to his fastball in recent outings, bringing it up to the mid-90s. That’s where it was late last season, when his ERA was 1.93. Sale predicted this would happen.

“I’ve thrown in scalding-hot heat all my life,’’ the Floridian said.

Sale (6.35 ERA) threw 100 mph pitches last year that were hit, so he knows it’s location that matters most. But there might be something to the warm-weather thing: His ERA is 11.05 at home, where it has been cold, and 2.79 on the road, where it has been warmer.

Notes

Third baseman Mark Teahen (strained oblique) is eligible to come off the disabled list today and is likely headed to Class AAA Charlotte for a rehab assignment. He took early batting practice Thursday. Guillen said he wants Teahen to play third, first and right field before coming back. Omar Vizquel started at third on Thursday.

Carlos Quentin, who missed two games last week with a sore knee, will get a day off in this series on the artificial surface, possibly Sunday, Guillen said.

◆ Konerko got a break in the field with Dunn playing his fifth game at first base. Konerko, who has started all but one game, went 0-for-4 as the designated hitter.



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