Notes: Iguchi needs All-Star assistance
Second baseman 150,000 votes behind Cano in latest balloting
PITTSBURGH -- While all of the White Sox are at PNC Park this week for their three-game series against the Pirates, it appears that not many will be starting the All-Star Game -- which will be held here on July 11.
Despite being the defending World Series champions and playing in baseball's third-largest market, it looks like the Sox will not field a starter voted in by the fans. With less than two days left of online balloting at MLB.com (voting ends at 10:59 CT on Thursday), not a South Sider could be found among the top two at any position in the latest American League vote totals released on Tuesday.
The team's best hope is second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, who is in third place, more than 150,000 votes behind New York's Robinson Cano. And while 150,000 votes is a far cry from being out of contention, he will need online balloters to vote early and vote often over the next two days.
Beyond Iguchi, no White Sox players are on the starting-lineup radar. The Northeast powers -- the Red Sox and Yankees -- pace nearly every position.
"I might have to ask Joe Torre to help me, because everybody's going to be from New York or Boston," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen joked.
Jose Contreras, however, is a worthy candidate to start for the AL, and Guillen has said he will not shy away from his own players when filling out the roster.
"We've got five or six guys that should be in the All-Star Game," he said.
Mackowiak returns to Steel City: Rob Mackowiak hesitantly opened the door to the visitors clubhouse at PNC Park before Tuesday's game.
"You almost walk right by the door, because you're so used to walking a little further," he said, laughing.
A homegrown prospect, who played for five seasons with the Pirates, the 30-year-old outfielder returned to PNC Park for the first time since Pittsburgh traded him in the offseason to Chicago for Damaso Marte. He eventually made his way over to the home clubhouse to see his old friends.
"I was in a place where I was very comfortable and had a lot of great friends you've been with for years," Mackowiak said. "[The trade] was really tough at first."
It made it easier when he found out where he was being sent. He had played on losing teams in his five seasons with the Pirates during times when it "wasn't always easy to come to the park."
And though he says he was looking forward to his return, it only serves as a reminder of Pittsburgh's rough times. The Pirates own the league's worst record and are riding a 12-game losing streak, after a 3-2 loss to the Sox on Tuesday night, their longest in more than 50 years.
"You don't want to see anybody [struggle], regardless of the team you're playing," he said. "You don't want to go out there and see guys just do terrible. I was a part of that, and it's not fun."
Ozuna resting: Pablo Ozuna was available on Tuesday, but Guillen said his infielder will likely be given a couple days off to rest his injured hamstring.
Ozuna left Sunday's game early, but he told Guillen he was ready to go. Guillen isn't about to push it, though, not when dealing with a hamstring, and not with Brian Anderson returning from his suspension on Tuesday.
"I feel like I should give him one or two days," Guillen said.
Thome question: What to do with Jim Thome?
That is the question Guillen is wrestling with as the White Sox visit two National League parks this week, without the luxury of a designated hitter.
Thome and first baseman Paul Konerko are both among the league's most productive players, but one of those bats will have to be plucked from the middle of the league's most potent offense. On Tuesday, Thome got the start at first base with the right-hander Ian Snell starting for Pittsburgh. Guillen said Konerko will be back in the lineup against lefties on Wednesday, Thursday and in Friday's opener against the Cubs.
Konerko reaches milestone: Paul Konerko's homer on Sunday was No. 222 in a White Sox uniform, moving him ahead of Harold Baines and into second place in franchise history.
Little fanfare came with the homer, but the honor didn't escape Konerko's grasp.
"Harold's a legend, so it's kind of cool to be on any kind of list with him," Konerko said of Baines, now the team's first-base coach.
Chicago extras: Cliff Politte pitched two scoreless innings at Triple-A Charlotte on Monday and could rejoin the White Sox as soon as Wednesday. The right-hander has been on the disabled list since June 4 with right shoulder tendinitis. ... The White Sox are averaging 35,210 fans through 40 games at U.S. Cellular Field, fourth-best in the league and close to 10,000 more fans per game than through the same period last season.
Up next: The White Sox will continue their three-game set with the Pirates at PNC Park at 6:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday night. Freddy Garcia (9-4, 4.66 ERA) will be opposed by Paul Maholm (2-6, 4.90 ERA).
David Briggsis an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.