CHICAGO -- Just when it looked as if the White Sox would finally get their top two hitters back together in the starting lineup, with Darin Erstad returning Friday and Scott Podsednik scheduled to come back Monday.

Well, anyone who has followed the White Sox injury-riddled, disastrous start to the 2007 season can fill in the blanks as to how the next scenario played out. Erstad returned from his stint on the disabled for the series opener against the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field, full of confidence and as certain as he could be of his sprained left ankle being able to handle the wear and tear of the daily grind.

The hard-nosed center fielder and White Sox leadoff man had every reason to be upbeat, as he waited a few extra days to come back from what looked to be a serious injury suffered on the last day of May in Toronto. Unfortunately for Erstad and his team, that confidence didn't pay immediate dividends.

Following Alfonso Soriano's leadoff home run in the Cubs' 5-1 victory, Erstad made a tremendous tumbling catch of Mike Fontenot's line drive to center field. But Erstad didn't make it to the bottom of the first inning, with Luis Terrero taking Erstad's place hitting against Carlos Zambrano, as Erstad left with a re-aggravation of the left ankle sprain.

According to a team spokesman, results of Friday's MRI taken on Erstad would not be available until Saturday morning. But Guillen wasn't ready to put Erstad back on the disabled list.

"Not yet," said Guillen of Erstad, who told Guillen he couldn't continue after the catch. "That's going to be a bad day for us, a worse day for us. It's already bad, it could be worse. I talked to Hermie [White Sox athletic trainer Herm Schneider] and he said he didn't have any color, any inflammation.

"Hopefully, the MRI comes clean," Guillen added.

Ironically, being able to make the plays defensively in center field was one of the internal criteria that needed to be met in order for Erstad to rejoin the starting lineup.

"In the outfield, [you have to be] able to break and get to balls," Erstad said. "You don't want to be out there and have your range limited and hurt your pitchers. Those are just things inside you like, 'You know you can get to that ball in the gap or if there's a single, I can get to third from first.' Just little things like that."

Erstad pointed to running the bases as being the biggest hurdle to overcome, but he never had the chance on Friday. Jim Thome returned Friday from a two-game absence caused by back spasms, and general manager Ken Williams also spoke of Monday's target date for Podsednik, who is playing at 95 percent and barring an unforeseen circumstance, will be with the team in Florida.

One healthy player, hitting .280 during his Minor League rehab with Triple-A Charlotte, appears to be on his way for the White Sox. But as has been the case all season for this snakebit team, another player goes down.

"Just a crazy year," Guillen said. "It's crazy the way we get injured, crazy how I don't think we've had too many days where we put the complete lineup together, the one we had in plans."

"It's been a grind," added Erstad, who was unavailable for comment after the loss. "It's not by lack of effort, that's for sure. It's been tough to watch because you are pulling for everyone and pulling for each other but there's no explanation."

Still in charge: Columnists across the country continue to write of Ozzie Guillen's impending demise as White Sox manager, and Williams continues to deny Guillen is going anywhere, doing so frequently on the record. On Friday, Williams explained how he can't make the point of Guillen staying in charge of the South Siders any clearer than he already has.

"Let's face it -- there are certain people with agendas," said Williams of the talk of Guillen's termination. "What they have said -- whether it be television or radio or write in print -- there's nothing you can do.

"All we have control over is the work we put in, our efforts that we put in, and hopefully that results in our players playing well and the team doing well and all those things that follow. We've all been in this game a long time, so we know how it goes."

The untouchables: A smile creased Williams' face Friday when asked about the players who he wouldn't trade on the current White Sox roster, with the non-waiver deadline of July 31 fast approaching.

"That's always a tough question for me," Williams said. "If I answer that question, is there anyone that we wouldn't consider moving, I would not be completely honest in saying, 'Yes.'

"I wouldn't be completely honest in saying 'No' because I think there are obvious certain core players that we think it would behoove us to keep around for a longer period of time. But at the same point, if an offer comes in that makes you better as a whole, then I think you have to consider anything."

Williams pointed to the Carlos Lee trade from the 2004 Winter Meetings as a way to redistribute talent, while making the team better.

"I'm interested in building the team as a whole in a much better way," Williams said.

All in the family: Despite Oney Guillen's 1-for-7 start at the plate for Bristol of the Appalachian League, the White Sox manager spoke with great pride of his son when asked Friday about the start to his professional career.

"I told him yesterday, 'I miss you, but I feel good because you're doing something you have always wanted to do,'" said Guillen of his middle son. "I told him to be patient because the kids around him have been playing for two or three months ahead of him. 'Make sure you just play hard. Don't worry about it because you'll be 0-for-4 a lot.' But he's having fun and doing something that he has always wanted to do."

Around the horn: The White Sox have a 4-12 record in Interleague Play, after finishing 14-4 against the National League in 2006. Guillen's crew also has a 6-10 record in one-run games, compared to last year's final mark of 24-21 and an amazing 35-18 run in 2005. ... Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who once played the same position for Eastern Illinois University, threw out one of the first pitches before Friday's contest. White Sox rookie John Danks, a Texas native, caught Romo's toss.

Down on the farm: Gavin Floyd continued to draw notice at Charlotte, improving to 5-3 during the Knights' 5-1 victory at Norfolk on Thursday. Floyd struck out eight and allowed six hits over 8 2/3 innings, before giving way to Ehren Wasserman (second save). Floyd has gone 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA and 40 strikeouts in his last 43 innings, covering six starts. ... Gio Gonzalez struck out seven and allowed three runs over five innings, leading Double-A Birmingham to an 8-3 victory at Chattanooga. Gonzalez also walked five. ... David Cook launched his 11th home run and Paulo Orlando went deep for the fourth time during Class A Winston-Salem's 9-4 loss at Potomac.

On deck: Javier Vazquez (3-5, 4.39 ERA) tries to improve on his 3-3 career record and 5.17 ERA against the Cubs when he takes the mound Saturday afternoon. Vazquez, who has a 1-5 record with a 4.65 ERA in his last nine starts, will be opposed by the Cubs' Rich Hill.