Notes: Rotation to follow same order
Contreras expected to start Game 1; Konerko in Arizona
CHICAGO -- Although neither manager Ozzie Guillen nor general manager Ken Williams confirmed the White Sox World Series pitching plans at any time during Wednesday's 90-minute workout, pitching coach Don Cooper might have let the layout for the starting rotation slip during a talk with the media.
Cooper spoke at length in regard to the simulated games and side sessions being set up for both his starters and relievers over the next three days. But the secret was revealed when Cooper was asked about left-hander Mark Buehrle, who hasn't pitched since his complete-game masterpiece last Wednesday against the Angels at U.S. Cellular Field, which changed the momentum in the best-of-seven series.
"Buehrle is playing catch today and tomorrow and having a sideline ... When is he pitching?" Cooper wondered aloud. "He's pitching Sunday, so he'll have a sideline tomorrow and have Friday and Saturday off."
Sunday, of course, would mark Game 2 of the World Series in front of the ecstatic and anxious White Sox fans. Nothing is truly official until Guillen makes the announcement, most likely during his press conference following Thursday's workout, but it looks as if Jose Contreras will start his third straight postseason series opener for the South Siders.
In the case of the White Sox starting four, they stand as the definition of the old adage, "If it's not broke, then don't fix it." The quartet of Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Contreras are coming off four straight complete games against the Angels, during a 4-1 series victory to claim the team's first American League pennant since 1959.
The staff ERA during the playoffs checks in at 2.50 entering Saturday night's World Series opener against either St. Louis or Houston. Contreras, Buehrle and Garcia have won two games apiece, while Garland won his only start when facing the Angels last Friday.
But the biggest reason for staying consistent with the plan, aside from a possible flip-flop with Garland and Garcia in Games 3 and 4, is that the White Sox have gone with the same six starters during the entire 2005 campaign. They also have stayed in the same order, once the rotation was set for a specific period of time.
"Our overriding thought is we didn't change the rotation from Spring Training through the first half of the season," Cooper said. "We set the rotation for the second half and didn't change it, and then we set the rotation for the playoffs.
"Nothing has changed. We have not changed a thing, and I don't think we will change anything now, but we still have to finalize it. Why would we want to mess that up?"
Cooper was content to stay with penciling in the pitching order, as opposed to putting it in ink, for the moment.
"Contreras is all set for Game 1, if we choose to do this," Cooper added.
Still around: Bobby Jenks termed results from his simulated game on Wednesday as "a little rusty," but the rust wasn't due to a pitching layoff during the five-game American League Championship Series.
"It's getting used to this weather for the first time in a long time," said Jenks of pitching in Chicago's crisp fall air for the first time in the postseason. "But this was a good chance to get out there and get ready to go."
The relievers threw simulated games on Wednesday and will do the same on Thursday, with an attempt to get the feel of the ball back and get their arms ready for the World Series. With the middle three games being played at the National League park, where pitchers will hit, there's a good chance the bullpen will be relied on much more in this final round of competition.
Cliff Politte laughed when asked if he could remember the last time he pitched, pointing to the first-game blowout of Boston in the Division Series. But with a 12-run lead at the time, all Politte could do was throw fastballs.
"If you go out there throwing junk, it's showing those guys up," Politte said. "So, I really didn't pitch. I just threw.
"But nobody down there is upset. We are ecstatic to be where we are at. If I have to ride their coattails for four more wins, I'm ready to do it."
A vote against realignment: Don't look for the White Sox to make any changes to their 25-man roster, especially with Orlando Hernandez's tight right shoulder responding well to side sessions. Nonetheless, Brandon McCarthy threw a simulated game on Wednesday in an effort to keep him sharp.
The biggest change will come during the middle three games of the World Series, when the White Sox lose a hitter for the pitcher. It looks as if designated hitter Carl Everett would take a seat on the bench after not having played the outfield during the playoffs.
"We haven't really thought about it," said center fielder Aaron Rowand of the lineup change. "We will worry about it when we get there."
"But I can't say never," added Guillen, when questioned about Everett playing the field in Houston or St. Louis. "It's likely he's going to come from the bench because Podsednik is a big part of our game and this kid has been playing well for us."
A new addition: Paul Konerko was not with the team Wednesday, as he returned to Arizona to join his wife, Jennifer, for the birth of their first child. Guillen wasn't sure if the ALCS Most Valuable Player would be back on Thursday.
"I wish he could, but when you have that kind of situation, you have to be careful how you handle it," Guillen said of Konerko. "You're talking about somebody's kids, somebody's life, and a new life coming.
"To me, like I said in the past, to me it's more important to be with my kids instead of the game," Guillen added.
And the winner is ... After Guillen was named The Sporting News American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday, Williams reminded him of an earlier statement he made in regard to personal awards.
"He made the comment earlier this year that he didn't want Manager of the Year because the next year the guy gets fired," Williams said. "So, I thanked him for all of his services. I congratulated him and said that at the end of the World Series, your stuff will be waiting for you outside the door."
Guillen said that with the help of the Internet, his countrymen in Venezuela found out in a more timely fashion about this honor, as opposed to when he won the magazine's Rookie of the Year award in 1985.
"It's a nice trophy to have in my house, but I see a lot of Managers of the Year not make it to the All-Star Game the next year," Guillen said. "I hope I do because I have to manage that team."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.