CHICAGO -- Physical improvement has come in small increments for Scott Podsednik, as the White Sox fleet-footed leadoff man tries to work his way back into the lineup.

Podsednik, who has been out of action since April 16 with a right adductor strain, took flips in the batting cage Friday and believes he stands about 2-4 days away from taking batting practice. He also has done some light running and dexterity drills, although Podsednik still couldn't set a timetable for his return when asked on Saturday.

And therein lies the biggest problem for Podsednik. The frustration of being inactive and away from the team has started to catch up with him mentally as much as the physical strain.

"I handled the first three weeks of it pretty well, relatively well," Podsednik said. "But the last couple of days, I guess because I get back here with all the guys, and then I sit out there on the bench during the games, it has been tough. I haven't had any pep in my step the last couple of days. It's starting to catch up to me. It hasn't been fun the last couple of days."

Manager Ozzie Guillen can relate to Podsednik's mental anguish. Although Guillen primarily focuses on the players making up the active roster, he went through the same sort of separation anxiety while rehabbing torn ligaments in his right knee as a player during the 1992 season.

Guillen said it's tough to watch teammates preparing for the game, knowing there's nothing you can contribute. It almost becomes as extreme as a feeling of guilt or even letting down the squad.

"You are going crazy, no matter what. You come here for the same reason and with the same routine every day," Guillen said. "You wish you could be there playing, and it's not easy to be with [White Sox trainer Herm Schneider] in the back [training] room.

"When you are playing, you finish 4-for-4 and you are happy or you go 0-for-4 and you are mad. People boo or clap for you -- there are a number of good things or bad things going on. When you're hurt, you come here at 1 p.m. and leave after the game. It's not fun."

With Podsednik's wife being out of town, he said that free time coming when the White Sox are on the road has been spent watching the team on television and dining alone. His goal remains to stay mentally strong while trying to get back into prime playing condition.

"That's the fight, that's the thing," Podsednik said. "You have to try to stay positive and motivated and know it's going to continue to improve. That's easier said than done."

Confidence restoration: Heading into Saturday's batting-practice session, Jim Thome had a plan to go all-out with his regular swings and test the improvement concerning a mild strain of his right ribcage. After Saturday's session was complete, with Guillen throwing the pitches to his designated hitter, Thome was much more encouraged than he was following Friday's swings.

That encouragement will play out during at rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte starting Monday, with the White Sox not planning on Thome's big-league return until May 21 at home against Oakland.

"I have to get some at-bats down there," said Thome, who will take batting practice Sunday and even plans to work through a simulated game in the cage. "The main thing is when we come back the next time, it's for the long haul and I'm not worrying about aches or nagging things with this injury. Today was a good day, even confidence-wise hitting."

No pressure: When Javier Vazquez agreed to a three-year, $34.5 million extension with the White Sox during the offseason, talk immediately began how the expectations for elite mound work would increase exponentially for the affable right-hander. But with his seventh start looming Sunday, Vazquez said that the new contract never got a second thought after he signed it.

"I really don't think about it, seriously," said Vazquez, who has given the White Sox a chance to win in all six previous 2007 starts. "I already had a good contract before this one. It's not like it's my first one. I just go out and pitch and it doesn't matter to me."

Cintron absent: Utility infielder Alex Cintron was placed on the Major League Bereavement List prior to Saturday's contest and will be away from the team for a minimum of three days. Cintron was on the Bereavement List from April 22-26 in order that he could return to Puerto Rico to be with his ailing grandfather.

Andy Gonzalez was called up from Charlotte, replacing Cintron as he did during his first absence. Gonzalez was expected to be at the ballpark early on in Saturday's contest.

Around the horn: Toby Hall officially began his injury rehab in Charlotte on Saturday night with three hitless at-bats and one walk against Norfolk. Hall started at catcher, hit cleanup and handled knuckleballer Charlie Haeger. Norfolk was 1-for-1 in stolen-base attempts against Hall. The White Sox reserve catcher, who will be with the Knights for at least one week, is working his way back from a dislocated right shoulder, which he suffered on March 25. ... Guillen altered Saturday's lineup by placing Juan Uribe second for the first time this year. A.J. Pierzynski, the team's hottest current hitter, moved to the third spot, with Tadahito Iguchi dropping down to the eighth slot. Guillen didn't want to continue moving Iguchi up and down and felt Uribe could handle the responsibilities of hitting second for a few games. ... The White Sox are the only team in baseball not to have a hitting streak of at least eight games in 2007.

Down on the farm: Lance Broadway won his first start following a stint on the disabled list, allowing one run on five hits over six innings, during Charlotte's 7-1 victory over Norfolk on Friday. Broadway was out of action due to lower back stiffness. Both Josh Fields and Brian Anderson went deep, marking No. 5 for Fields and Anderson's second home run. ... Thomas Collaro, who leads the Southern League in extra-base hits, knocked out his seventh home run during Double-A Birmingham's 2-1 victory over Jacksonville. ... Micah Schnurstein reached base for the 12th straight game, launching his 10th home run, in leading Class A Winston-Salem to a 12-2 win at Lynchburg. Schnurstein was one of four Warthogs with at least three hits, in support of winning pitcher Clayton Richard.

On deck: Vazquez will try to raise his career record to 5-1 against the Royals during Sunday afternoon's Mother's Day game.