Chicago pulling up its Sox

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:11 AM ET

It has been a lousy start for the Chicago White Sox, no doubt.

This is a team with a $128-million US payroll, the fifth-highest in baseball, and lofty expectations to match.

In one stretch in late April-early May, they lost 17 of 21 games and found themselves with the worst record in baseball. Lest anyone in Toronto start exchanging high-fives in anticipation of their arrival for a four-game series this weekend, beware.

The White Sox slowly are getting their act together. They have won 12 of their last 18 and, while still muddling along below .500, their pedigree is beginning to show.

The last few weeks, with the return of Jake Peavy, they have been working with a six-man rotation with some success. In the last 13 starts, the rotation has gone 6-4 with an ERA of 3.38.

There are still some holes in the Chicago offence, most notably free agent acquisition Adam Dunn, who is mired in a miserable slump, and former Blue Jay Alex Rios, who has been almost as unproductive.

But this is a much better team than its record. Late last week they swept the first-place Indians in a two-game series in Chicago and are now in a position to start grinding away at the 10-game deficit in the AL Central standings.

Dunn, who is being paid $12 million in the first year of a four-year, $56 million deal, has been a bust. In his last 10 games he is hitting .114 (4-for-35) with a homer and six RBI. And itís not as if he was lighting things up before that. He is at .192 for the season with five homers and 22 RBI.

Rios did not hit a home run until the last day of April, finishing that month with a .163 batting average and six RBI. Since then he has been marginally better, with three homers and a batting average just over .200, still a serious under-achiever.

The six-man rotation has been an interesting experiment but it is probably coming to an end. Toronto is the second stop on a three-city road trip and when they get back home, the Sox get four off-days in June, which will mean some long breaks for individual pitchers if they stick with six starters. Somebody probably will have to go to the bullpen.

ďWe donít want to do it to anyone, but in the meanwhile some guys canít pitch with eight daysí rest,Ē manager Ozzie Guillen told the Chicago Sun-Times.

ďSome guys canít pitch with seven daysí rest. Thatís a lot. When you talk about six, you can get away with that because you might skip one day. But put it together, we will have two guys with eight days without pitching, and I donít think thatís fair for anyone.Ē


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