For White Sox relievers, too much rest can be problematic
By Daryl Van Schouwen firstname.lastname@example.org July 17, 2011 9:16PM
DETROIT - JULY 17: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the seventh inning during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on July 17, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the White Sox 4-3. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\119301615.jpg
Updated: July 18, 2011 9:11PM
DETROIT — The four- day All-Star break and two wins by five runs or more gave Sox relievers a mental break from work, as well as a rest for their arms. There can be a downside, however, closer Sergio Santos said.
“There’s that fine line of when you want days off to get rest and feel good, and also you want to mix in a steady amount of work, so you can keep that feel of game action,’’ said Santos, who hasn’t pitched in eight days.
To stay sharp, relievers throw 10-to-15-pitch side sessions off a mound after warming up. But those are nothing like the real thing.
“No, you can’t simulate game situations,’’ Santos said. “All you can hope for is getting some downward action off the mound throwing to a target.’’
When Chris Sale came into the game Sunday, it was his first appearance in nine days. The first batter he faced, Carlos Guillen, drove in the go-ahead run with a single. He retired the last five batters he faced after that.
A.J. AL’s best
A.J. Pierzynski leads all American League catchers with a .288 average, 82 games played and 6861/3 innings caught. Tyler Flowers will give Pierzynski a break in Kansas City on Tuesday or Wednesday with the Royals starting a lefty on both days. Manager Ozzie Guillen said he’ll use Flowers the same way he used Ramon Castro, who’s on the disabled list.
“When I see the time is right for A.J. to get a day off, I will do that,’’ Guillen said.
Pierzynski was 0-for-2 Sunday but drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and led off the ninth with a 10-pitch walk against Jose Valverde.
Buehrle on luck
Mark Buehrle insists he’s the same pitcher he has always been and that his recent run of 13 starts that dropped his ERA two whole points to 3.42 is related more to luck than anything.
“I’m the same me, and I’m on a good stretch right now,’’ said Buehrle, who will start tonight when the Sox open a three-game series in Kansas City. “To be honest, I think there’s a lot of luck in pitching, and I’m just on a roll right now. I’m making important pitches I need to make, but, at the same time, I’m getting away with stuff.’’
When it’s going good, hitters foul off mistake pitches down the middle “that could have been a home run,’’ Buehrle said. When it’s going bad, hitters take advantage of every mistake.
Of course, Buehrle didn’t become a four-time All-Star on good fortune alone.
“Obviously you have to make good pitches,’’ he said.
The Sox’ 44 errors are the fewest in baseball, and their .988 fielding percentage is the best, slightly ahead of the Phillies (.987) and Dodgers (.987). Gordon Beckham’s .998 percentage (one error) leads major-league second basemen.
◆ Juan Pierre cooled off slightly with a 1-for-5 day. He’s batting .386 with nine RBI in the last 17 games.
◆ Right-hander Tony Pena threw 34 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday. He will report to Class AAA Charlotte if his elbow feels OK.