The White Sox improbable 7 game road winning streak came to an end Tuesday night. More importantly, they got bit by the injury bug pretty hard.
Gordon Beckham, who got hit by a pitch on the hand last week, has had a longer-than-expected recovery, was reportedly unable to grip a bat pregame and consequently was a late scratch. Paul Konerko, who missed the last 2 games with back spasms, got the customary extra-day of rest. Freddy Garcia, who lasted just 4 innings with a tight back of his own last outing, halved that endurance with just two innings before his back forced him out. Finally, Manny Ramirez was hit by pitches on two separate occasions and had to be removed after the latter, though that appeared to be out of typical Manny-being-Manny, late-inning blowout indifference than anything else.
The Beckham and Garcia injuries loom the largest. Beckham reacted as though he broke his hand in Cleveland and has had considerable swelling since. Although the initial x-ray proved to be negative, his slow recovery and recent setback seem to indicated something more substantial than a bruise. If Beckham were indeed to go down, Omar Vizquel would leaned on even more heavily, probably shifting to 2B, while the trio of Mark Teahen, Dayan Viciedo and Brent Morel split time at 3B. Morel is the only one who has a passable major league glove, but he now owns a grand total of one major league at-bat, which he received in the 9th inning of tonight's blowout. Amusingly, Viciedo also had a milestone moment in the game's 9th inning, drawing his first major league walk and celebrating with a large smile and double fist pump.
Garcia lasted longer as an effective starter than most expected, but it's clear that he can't be counted on for anything now. He's had one quality start in the last 30 days, and didn't last past the 4th inning in half of those starts. Unfortunately, Garcia's predicted dive came after Jake Peavy's season ending injury and the trade of 6th starter Daniel Hudson. Lucas Harrell and Carlos Torres filled in for Garcia about as well as you might expect them to, that is at replacement level, but that's not going to cut it as the Sox sit some 4-games back of the division leading Twins.
Garcia's next scheduled start is this Saturday against the Royals. If it was any other team, I'd skip Garcia and go to a 4-man rotation. But it's the Royals, and Danks is already scheduled to work on short rest this week. Going to a 4-man rotation now would put Danks on 3-days rest for almost the entire rest of the season. The proper approach is probably to take a bullpen day against the Royal, maybe with Garica getting the start, sticking with him if he miraculously has it, and then using the off-day in front of the Twins series to skip his next start. At that point, the season is short enough that the Sox could make the decision to go with a 4-man rotation as they did in '08, or in the event of a clock-cleaning by the Twins, give the young guys some experience.
Either way, tonight should be the last night Garcia is counted on in a Sox uniform.