By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) — If the Chicago White Sox are going to compete for a playoff spot in 2014, there would be no better time to strike than now. The South Side 25 are in a swing of playing 10 of 13 games against teams with the worst records in baseball.
After the Cubs series is over, the Sox play three at home against Arizona, three in Oakland and three at Houston. The combined record of the Cubs, Arizona and Houston was 33-62 entering play on Tuesday. Those three teams are in last place in their divisions and have the three worst winning percentages in the majors so far this season.
Injuries have prevented the Sox from having a better record. Chicago has out-slugged opponents in winning 15 of 32 games up until now. Scoring 166 runs, Robin Ventura’s team is the polar opposite from last year’s meager run producing group. The White Sox are averaging a run and a half more per-game in 2014 under new hitting coach Todd Steverson.
With two rotation pitchers from the opening day roster out with injury, Chris Sale and Felipe Paulino, and one back in the minors, Erik Johnson, Chicago has been piecing things together with waiver wire veterans and career minor league pitchers. Paulino is ready for a rehab assignment. Sale is not expected back until around early June. Johnson must prove to Sox brass that he can command his pitches the next time around.
“Sale feels good,” said the Sox manager of his rehabbing ace. “There have been no set-backs so we will let him go at his pace.”
The White Sox are not considered a playoff caliber team. That said, with a potent offense led by newcomers Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu, the team has shocked the league with a never-say-die attitude. The late inning heroics center around 30 ninth inning runs scored, the most in baseball.
Getting Sale (forearm strain) and Eaton (hamstring) off of the DL will be essential to any aspirations they may have becoming a factor in the American League this season.
“You can’t just say because of their record you are going to win the majority of them,” said Ventura. “Hey we are banged up and have had to scratch and claw. I am sure these guys look at us as a favorable match up because of the way we look.”
Sitting five games behind the hot Detroit Tigers, the schedule should be a driving force for the White Sox. Chicago could make their mark by winning the majority of these games against the have-nots of baseball.