Notes: Mackowiak feeling down
Despite heading to contender, infielder will miss Chicago
NEW YORK -- Moving from a team sitting nine games under .500 and 12 games out of a playoff spot to a team in prime playoff contention would seem to be traveling in a positive direction for most players.
But despite Rob Mackowiak joining the San Diego Padres via a deal consummated just 30 minutes before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline, propelling the utility outfielder/infielder into the forefront of the race to capture the National League West, the native Chicagoan didn't seem excited to be leaving home.
"I'm extremely surprised," said Mackowiak, before exiting the White Sox clubhouse for the final time on Tuesday. "It hurts to go from a team that you grew up watching and to be with a group of guys you idolized as a kid. It's tough."
Much like the bulk of the White Sox offense, Mackowiak started the season slowly with the bat but bounced back to hit a team-high .278 with six home runs and 36 RBIs. Mackowiak's versatility, a skill making him attractive to the White Sox when they acquired him prior to the 2006 season, also seemed to draw interest from the Padres.
"[Padres manager Bud Black] said, 'Bring all your gloves and be ready,'" Mackowiak said. "That's been my job every year, to be ready for every position. I'm probably more valuable in the National League than I am here because of all the double-switches and pitchers hitting.
"It's a difficult situation, but I'll make the most of it. There's nothing I can do."
With a $3.25 million team option held by the White Sox on Mackowiak for 2008, the left-handed hitter felt the club simply was going in a different direction that didn't include him. Mackowiak still sounded as if he would treasure the memories of playing in Chicago
"It's a dream come true, playing for the team you grew up watching," Mackowiak said. "It was my favorite team growing up. You wish you could spend the rest of your career there.
"I have nothing but positive and great things to say about the organization, and [general manager] Kenny [Williams] and [manager] Ozzie [Guillen]. They've been first class, all the way."
Inside information: When the dust cleared from Tuesday's no-waiver trade deadline, Javier Vazquez remained a part of the White Sox starting rotation. With the flash of a wry smile, Vazquez said that he was never worried about being moved to another team.
"I just had a feeling that I wasn't going anywhere," said Vazquez, who has an 8-6 record and 3.63 ERA over 21 starts. "I know I've always said that, [but] sometimes management or a general manager has a trade out there they can't refuse for a good player.
"There's always a possibility that anybody can be traded, because sometimes they're going to offer you a lot of guys that a team needs for you. I think nobody in baseball is untouchable.
"But I had a feeling I wasn't going anywhere," Vazquez added. "I wasn't worried 100 percent."
The White Sox were said to be interested in moving Jose Contreras, if they traded any of their valuable rotation members. Other teams were more interested in acquiring Jon Garland or Vazquez, who have turned in far more consistent efforts this season.
Return to sender: Following a 12-game Minor League rehab stint with Triple-A Charlotte in which he hit .128 (6-for-47), Darin Erstad took Mackowiak's spot on the active roster and was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Tuesday's series opener at Yankee Stadium. Erstad had a .264 average with two home runs and 21 RBIs before going down for a second time with a left ankle sprain.
According to Guillen, Erstad will be used all over the field.
"We will rotate people," said Guillen of the outfielder's usage. "We might rotate [Scott] Podsednik, give him a day off, or give [Jim] Thome a day off and put Erstad at first base. It's a problem I have to resolve but it should be a good problem to have."
Williams added that the White Sox need to find at-bats for Jerry Owens with the way he has played since coming back from Charlotte on July 3.
Same position, new organization: Williams didn't have much to say regarding the Orioles claiming Gustavo Molina on waivers Monday afternoon, reducing the 40-man roster to 38. Molina broke camp as the White Sox backup catcher, when Toby Hall injured his right shoulder during the last week of Spring Training, and had one hit in 18 at-bats during 10 games.
But Williams made it clear Tuesday that Molina would not have been called back up to Chicago in September.
"He was passed over in the depth chart," said the White Sox general manager of Molina, who hit .209 in 43 games with Charlotte. "He has been passed over by a couple of guys."
Donny Lucy, hitting .266 for Double-A Birmingham, and Cole Armstrong, carrying a .285 average for Class A Winston-Salem, could be the catchers on the move up and over Molina. Even with his sudden departure, Guillen appreciated Molina's work behind the plate.
"Molina did what we told him to do and I wish him the best," Guillen said. "Hopefully, this kid find a job in the Winter League to make him better. I'm 100 percent for sure that if we make that move, it means we have somebody we think is better than him."
Around the horn: With his next start scheduled for Friday, Mark Buehrle might not be with the team for the entire three-game series in New York. Buehrle returned home to St. Louis to be with his wife, Jamie, and newborn son, Braden. "His wife is still in the hospital. His grandmother still is in bad shape," said Guillen of Buehrle. "I said if he can't come tomorrow, there's nothing to do here because we have a day game [Thursday]. We will meet him in Detroit." ... Entering Tuesday's series opener, White Sox relievers had retired 19 of the last 20 batters faced.
Down on the farm: With Guillen and his wife, Ibis, looking on, Bristol edged Princeton by a 6-4 final Monday night. Po-Yu Lin earned the victory, striking out six over 5 2/3 innings, while Oney Guillen finished 0-for-4 at the plate. ... Aaron Poreda, the White Sox top pick from the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, allowed two runs on four hits over three innings of relief as part of Great Falls' 3-1 loss to Billings. The big left-hander struck out one and didn't issue a walk. ... Lance Broadway hurled a complete game, striking out six, but still suffered the loss in Charlotte's 6-3 setback at Louisville.
On deck: It's career start No. 1 at Yankee Stadium for rookie John Danks (6-7, 4.83) on Wednesday night at 6:05 p.m. CT. The White Sox have a 5-1 record over Danks' last six starts.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.