Notes: Gload gets rare start
But 'day-to-day' role suiting utility player just fine
CHICAGO -- The fans in the right-field bleachers at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday might have done a bit of a double-take when "No. 17, Ross Gload" was read by public address announcer Gene Honda during the pregame introduction of the White Sox starting lineup.
In fact, with Gload making his first start of the 2006 season and in right field, no less, he probably had to reintroduce himself to the White Sox faithful. Gload had six at-bats entering the series opener against Seattle, far and away the lowest total on the team. Five of those six came as a pinch-hitter.
But with Gload primarily backing up designated hitter Jim Thome and first baseman Paul Konerko, his on-field time has been limited. Actually, it has been downright non-existent.
"Thome took his first day yesterday and Konerko might try to go 100 or 120 games before he takes his," said Gload with a smile. "It's nice to know you will be in there at 7:05, as opposed to the sixth, seventh or eighth innings.
"Hopefully I'll get two [at-bats] or three tonight. It will be a little different, but I will be ready to go from the start, instead of having to get loose during the game."
Right-handers Felix Hernandez, Scott Elarton and Runelvys Hernandez are scheduled to start the next three games against the White Sox, meaning the left-handed-hitting Gload could get a couple of consecutive starts. But Gload doesn't allow himself to look too far ahead on the schedule.
In his specific role, Gload carries more of an at-bat-to-at-bat sort of focus, instead of day-to-day. But he has the makeup to succeed in a deep reserve role.
"Once he gets in there a couple of times, we all know what he can do," said Konerko of Gload. "His swing is low maintenance, and he's one of those guys that can sit out for a week or two and get in there and take good swings."
"My job is day to day," Gload added. "Hopefully, I'll go out and help the team win tonight."
Bruised and battered: The chance for Gload to play exists because Jermaine Dye could be out three to four games with a strained left calf muscle. Dye left early from Sunday's contest in Anaheim, missed Monday's series opener in Cleveland and then exited after one at-bat Tuesday.
"I talked to him on the plane last night and told him we don't want any heroes," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of Dye. "I have to give him more than one day because you're not going to recover from one day to another.
"He's still a little bit tight. I'd rather give him a couple days, two days, three days. Hopefully, he'll get better."
Left-handed-hitting reserve Rob Mackowiak played the last three games in right field in place of Dye. But he has been moved into the lineup temporarily against tough right-handed pitchers, replacing the slumping Brian Anderson in center field.
"I don't want to be out there because a guy is struggling. It's not my goal," Mackowiak said. "I'm not here to take advantage of someone else's failures. We are here to win ballgames."
In defense of Freddy: Guillen once again showed support for Freddy Garcia, Wednesday's starting pitcher, when fielding questions in the pregame media session in regard to recent allegations in Lider, a Venezuelan daily newspaper. The reports suggested that marijuana was found in the pitcher's urine in a test administered during the World Baseball Classic.
Lider was the only Venezuelan paper to report and continue to report such allegations, a point made clear by Guillen. The White Sox manager, and close friend of Garcia, then delivered a slightly more blistering attack on this particular journalist from his native country.
"Some people there like to do stuff they are not supposed to do, and they make money at it," Guillen said. "Everything in Venezuela is negative.
"It's a good thing it happened to Freddy and not to Ozzie Guillen because that man's going to be in big trouble. I'm not going to stay away from anything. I will fly to Venezuela and kick his [backside]. You cannot print in the paper something you really do not know."
Glancing blow: For those who thought the shot to the head Chris Widger took Tuesday on Ron Belliard's backswing looked bad, the reserve catcher admitted Wednesday he's suffered through worse.
"I got knocked out one time in the Minors," said Widger, who left Tuesday's game with dizziness and nausea, but was ready for action against Seattle. "It happens once in a while. Some times you get it in the arm. Some times in the back of the head. It just happens that this one snapped my head the wrong way, I guess."
Widger said he was lucky to take the blow from Belliard's handle instead of the head of the bat, causing mild concussion-like symptoms. He also said it was the whiplash of his head snapping sideways and not the impact causing most of the problem.
Third to first: Dwayne Wade, the former basketball star at Richards High School in Oak Lawn who almost single-handedly willed the Miami Heat past the Bulls on Tuesday night, was seen over the weekend wearing a White Sox hat on a couple of occasions. ... The 28 runners left on base by the White Sox over the last two games were the most in consecutive nine-inning games since Sept. 27-28, 1974, when they stranded 29 against the A's. With 200 men left on base, the White Sox rank third in the American League.
Down on the farm: Sean Tracey allowed one hit over seven innings, striking out six, during Triple-A Charlotte's 4-0 whitewash of Buffalo on Tuesday. Tracey, who moved into the starting rotation when Hideo Nomo was injured, improved to 3-0. Chris Stewart added two hits, including his first home run. ... Ray Liotta threw six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out three, but did not factor in Double-A Birmingham's 3-1 victory over Jacksonville. Chris Getz drove in two. ... Chris Kelly hit his sixth home run and drove in three in Class A Winston-Salem's 5-4 loss at Frederick. ... Derek Rodriguez struck out 10 and Adam Ricks knocked out three hits, but Class A Kannapolis fell to 3-22 with a 3-2 loss at Savannah.
Up next: Fresh off being named the American League Pitcher of the Month for April, Jose Contreras finishes off this brief two-game series against Seattle on Thursday afternoon. Contreras carries a 12-game, regular-season winning streak into Thursday.
It's the longest active streak in baseball and tied with Jim Kaat (1975-75) for the fourth longest by a White Sox pitcher since 1970. Contreras leads the AL with a 1.45 ERA and a .185 opponents' average against.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.