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White Sox dealing with no depth

Dylan Axelrod has held up well enough, but there's not much where he came from.
Dylan Axelrod has held up well enough, but there's not much where he came from.

The White Sox's uncharacteristic poor health continued into Monday. Philip Humber is set to return, but he could very well be taking the place of Gavin Floyd, who is reportedly losing a battle with the disabled list.

Floyd's injury is classified as tendinitis -- he underwent an MRI, but no damage was found -- but it's another ailment that is worse than originally thought, with no firm concept of recovery time:

"It has been like a gradual thing," Floyd said. "It has gotten better in between starts for a little bit, and it’s been manageable. The (day of the) starts has been fine, and the day before was a lot better than the days before that. Then, the last start (July 7), it was tight and a little sore, and it got tighter a little bit as the game went on.

"I didn’t think nothing of it. I thought it would be fine. I threw a little bit in the break and you know, it was sore and tender and especially on off-speed stuff. I threw a bullpen (Friday), and I didn’t think I could compete because I was kind of pitching worried whether something was wrong, even more than I thought."

This is getting ridiculous, so much so that a couple of theories are coming into play.

Theory No. 1: Playing the role of this Adam Dunn's appendix this season? Herm Schneider's 70 pounds.

Theory No. 2: Maybe Mark Buehrle provided some kind of counterbalance by being a guy who was always rumored to be hurt, but made every start. He'd show up to spring training on special schedules designed to preserve a shoulder held together by partial ligaments, tendons and twine, and then he'd "break his foot" on a sprinkler head, or get drilled by a line drive on his throwing arm, and somehow, he'd be back the next week.

Then again, Buehrle was around when the Sox underestimated the severity of Carlos Quentin's shoulder sprain last year, so maybe Theory No. 1 holds more water. Even though we're dealing with less volume. Anyway.

And then there's the bullpen, which became exposed on Monday when Leyson Septimo bit off more than he could chew. Or Ventura put a chunk of something in his mouth that dislocated his jaw. The metaphors, they are increasingly forced.

Ventura defended his choice of Septimo over Matt Thornton in the postgame interview, which was especially unusual since Thornton started warming up.

"We were going through the same thing in Kansas City," Ventura said. "If you go to him (Thornton), you’re going through everybody else anyway. We backed off when it was Septimo and Nate (Jones) behind him.’’ [...]

"Whoever goes in there, veteran or not, you have to step in and do the job," Ventura said. "I don’t put training wheels on them because they’re a rookie. There’s a lot of guys who are in positions they wouldn’t be in if everybody was healthy. But for us, that’s where we’re at.’’

I can empathize with Ventura here, because there are some factors at play beyond the winnability of one game. Thornton is on pace to set a career high in appearances, and while he hasn't been overworked as of late, Addison Reed has seen plenty of action. So it's possible Ventura was trying to keep one of two known ninth-inning options available had the Sox ever taken the lead.

If that's even close to being a scenario, it's debatable on its own merits. But with six rookies in the bullpen, and only one who comes close to resembling a trustworthy option, Ventura's going to have to try stealing innings on a pretty frequent basis, hoping guys like Septimo can fake it 'til they make it. Ventura chose that route on Monday; he might have to two or three other times this week, even in games where he uses Thornton or Addison Reed.


Speaking of stealing innings, the beat writers are speculating that Pedro Hernandez will be called up to take Wednesday's start.

It's gotten to the point that I can't remember who was originally supposed to start, what with Humber coming back and Floyd leaving and Axelrod throwing whenever somebody isn't. But it's strange to see the Sox maintain the extra day of rest for the Sox's top three healthy starters at a time that allows no budget for luxuries

Then again, Ventura still has Jake Peavy and Chris Sale lined up for the first two games against the Tigers, with Peavy squaring off against Justin Verlander in a marquee matchup. So there's some starter-leveraging at play here, and it appears to be a pretty big priority if they're maintaining the weekend schedule in the face of mounting present threats.

That's a gamble. Should the Sox choose an undersized, left-handed, eighth-starter option for "may as well" reasons, they'll have all the pieces in place for another Arnie Munoz Game, while saving their best starter for a head-to-head battle with Verlander, which is a losing proposition in and of itself. I appreciate the spirit behind the plan ("our best can beat their best"), which is a change from previous seasons ("everybody's going to go 0-for-4 and that's OK"), but it's doubling down on the less likely positive outcome.

It's a bitch having zero depth.