Notes: How long will Juan be gone?
Jenks ready to take the ball; Podsednik, Iguchi strugging
CHICAGO -- When will Juan Uribe return to the White Sox starting lineup?
The shortstop's best guess has his stiff lower back ready to compete by Thursday evening's series finale against Mike Mussina and the Yankees. But judging from manager Ozzie Guillen's somewhat sarcastic response to Uribe's assessment, he's not putting any stock in his shortstop's comments until he hears the words directly from Uribe.
"Good for him. I don't know and I don't care," said Guillen, after being made aware by the media of Uribe's estimate. "When he's ready to go, I will see what I'm going to do with the lineup and we will play him. There's one thing about this game that people want you, but they don't need you. Someone else will replace you.
"I'm not saying he's faking injury or anything, but I thought it was something simple or normal. All of a sudden, it's been a couple of days.
"When he's ready, we will see what we do," Guillen added. "But I'm not going to come every day asking how he feels. When he's ready, he should come to [third-base coach] Joey Cora or myself and say, 'I'm ready to perform tomorrow.'"
Even when Uribe comes to Guillen or Cora with that particular statement, Guillen said there's no guarantee Uribe immediately will return to the starting lineup after a four-day absence. Guillen has been more than satisfied with the play of Alex Cintron in Uribe's absence, despite Cintron slipping into a 2-for-19 drought during his last five games. But Cintron has delivered clutch hits throughout the year, including driving in the first two runs during Tuesday's win.
Guillen admitted there was further talk about placing Uribe on the 15-day disabled list. But instead of replacing Uribe with a position player, Guillen instead would opt for a 12th pitcher in the midst of playing 24 games in 24 days.
"If anybody goes on the DL right now, some pitcher is going to come up," Guillen said. "My bench is good enough to replace any position player. We are going through a pretty tough schedule. If we have to do it, it will be a pitcher."
Armed and ready: Despite his season-high pitch total reaching 38 over 2 2/3 innings of work Tuesday night, closer Bobby Jenks was available Wednesday if the White Sox had the lead entering the ninth inning.
"I feel really good today," said Jenks with smile, after making his 10th appearance covering more than one inning in 2006. "I feel really fresh today, and if I get a chance to get into the game, I will."
Jenks seemed to be a last resort for Guillen on Wednesday, with Mike MacDougal or Matt Thornton possibly getting the chance to close. But Jenks truly thrives off the extra work, especially with the final result in mind.
"When they go good, yeah," said Jenks of relishing the occasional two-inning stint. "When you go more innings, they're fun. It makes it a lot more enjoyable."
Help from the top: Randy Johnson's start Wednesday gave Scott Podsednik the night off, but the leadoff hitter's production -- or lack thereof during the last six games -- was called into question for Guillen prior to the second game of this series. Podsednik is mired in a 4-for-27 slump in the middle of this streaky season for the fleet-footed left fielder, but the latest funk has come at the same time as a 3-for-24 stretch for Tadahito Iguchi in the lineup's second slot.
The presence of top RBI men such as Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede in the middle of the lineup makes Podsednik and Iguchi getting on base essential for the offense to run at full capacity. But Guillen doesn't want to pressure Podsednik into thinking he has to get on base with every plate appearance, and Konerko pointed to Podsednik's runs scored as the most important number by which he should be judged.
"I know Pods wants to swing the bat better, but I also know he's scored a pretty good amount of runs this year," said Konerko of Podsednik, who ranks second on the team with 74 runs scored. "If you really break it down, a leadoff hitter's job above all else is to score runs. Everything else is just for decoration. If you just look at his runs scored, I think he's done the job."
"I'm not going to change Pods," Guillen added. "He knows he has to get on base. He knows that as soon as he gets on base the ballgame changes. He can make a lot of things happen. I think when Pods gets on base and has a good game, it seems like we always win."
Guillen also didn't seem concerned with Podsednik's weak throwing arm in left, despite runners seemingly taking the extra base whenever the opportunity presents itself.
"He's not there for his arm. He's there for his speed," Guillen said. "His arm is not the best, but the only thing about him is I just want him to catch the ball. I don't care about him throwing it."
Third to first: With his 34th home run on Monday night, Thome tied the franchise record set by Robin Ventura in 1996 for most home runs in one season by a left-handed hitter. Oscar Gamble (31 in 1977) and Jose Valentin (30 in 2004) are the only other lefties in White Sox history to top 30 home runs ... Konerko's home run off of Mariano Rivera was just the second Rivera has given up in his career to a White Sox hitter. Carlos Lee hit the first one on June 23, 2000, a solo shot which also tied the game at the time ... Entering Wednesday night's contest, the White Sox held a three-game lead over the Yankees for the best record in the Majors over the past two seasons. The White Sox sit at 165-108, while the Yankees check in at 161-110
Down on the farm: Tim Redding hurled his fourth complete game of the season as Triple-A Charlotte beat Durham by a 3-1 margin in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday. Redding allowed one run on six hits, striking out nine, as he improved to 10-8. Casey Rogowski tripled in the first-game victory and had two hits in the Game 2 loss, raising his average to .371 over Rogowski's last 10 games ... Jack Egbert fanned seven over 8 1/3 innings, yielding one run on three hits, as he won for the ninth time in Class A Winston-Salem's 2-1 victory at Wilmington ... Lee Cruz homered for the fifth time and raised his average to .288 during Great Falls' 10-3 victory at Billings.
Up next: It's career start No. 3 for Javier Vazquez (10-6, 5.18) against one of his former teams, when the White Sox right-hander faces the Yankees on Thursday night in the series finale. Vazquez struck out 13 during his victory over Toronto on Aug. 5. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.