Rongey: 5th Spot Still Humber’s…For Now
By Chris Rongey
MESA, AZ–Seven earned runs and and 4 walks in Thursday’s 8-7 White Sox loss to the Cubs, likely aren’t going to cost Phil Humber a chance at breaking camp as the team’s 5th starter. Barring an incredible recover by Jake Peavy or an acquisition of some kind (both highly unlikely), Humber will still be the guy.
“I don’t see anybody out there better than what we have,” said Ozzie Guillen who saw his starter pitch 4 1/3 innings. “This guy’s already got the innings. His stuff is good. I don’t see why not keep him there and see what he can do.”
Really, at this point, it comes down to options, or lack thereof. In an ideal world, the Sox won’t need Humber for very long, anyway. However, the only certainty in the health of Jake Peavy is that his health is uncertain.
But, while Humber is a Sox starter, he’ll need to cut down on putting on-base the leadoff hitter, something he did in 3 of the 5 innings he started Thursday (walk, single, and a home run).
“It’s hard to keep them from scoring when have guys on base all the time,” Humber said after making his second Cactus League start and his 6th appearance. “There was a lot of traffic out there today and most of it was caused by me not throwing strikes.”
Thursday wasn’t an encouraging day for the right-hander, but it really doesn’t mean much for the regular season starts, either. Just as 5 innings of shutout baseball Thursday would have meant little for what happens in April. The Sox are just going to have to hope that Humber is competent in however many starts he does have this season.
Other Stuff From Thursday: Brent Morel officially named the Opening Day third baseman. I know you already knew that.
–Juan Pierre left the game after fouling a ball off his right shin. It didn’t seem to be anything serious and he was replaced in the game by Brent Lillibridge. He should be fine, the team says. Pierre, by the way, was replaced in the late innings by Lastings Milledge yesterday.
As the days roll and we get closer to Monday (the day by which all final decisions will be made), there is clearly an argument for both Milledge and Lillibridge to be kept as the 25th man. Milledge has hit well and will provide a little better defense in the outfield while serving as the only real outfielder on the Sox bench. But if the Sox believe Milledge could be a part of their everyday future, getting him regular ABs in Triple A, might be good for him. Lillibridge isn’t a true outfielder but is versatile and the Sox probably doesn’t figure him to ever be a regular player. Therefore, sporadic ABs off the bench would suit him, and the team, just fine.