Uribe set to return to White Sox
But second baseman is not assured of starting spot
ST. PETERSBURG -- Juan Uribe returned to the White Sox on Friday night, enduring the expected good natured ribbing from his teammates and coaches almost as soon as he arrived from an injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte.
The veteran middle infielder will return to the White Sox active roster following Friday night's contest, eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list for Saturday's game against the Rays. Whether Uribe will be back in the starting lineup at second base is a question Ozzie Guillen couldn't answer definitively.
"I keep saying I'm going to give 'The Missile' an opportunity to play and see how good [he does]," said Guillen, referring to Alexei Ramirez, who has been the primary starter at second in Uribe's absence. "But we need Uribe to play second base.
"I'm not going to say we're a better ballclub, but we're a better defensive club when Uribe is at second," Guillen added.
Uribe last played in a big league game on May 15 in Anaheim, leaving that night with a strained right hamstring. Friday marked his 14th game out of action, although he did play three games this week for the Knights.
Getting those 11 at-bats with Charlotte helped greatly in his preparation to come back, according to Uribe. He listed himself at 100 percent healthy and able to do everything he needs to do to be successful on the field.
"Yeah, I feel a lot better," said Uribe, sitting in front of his locker on Friday evening. "I ran and I don't feel the strain now.
"It helped me see the pitch. I haven't seen pitching for two weeks and, with the three games, my swing feels good. I think my timing will be okay."
Ramirez has started 11 of the last 13 games at second base, posting a .289 average with eight runs scored in the process. Ramirez's average now stands at .218, with one home run and six RBIs, while Uribe is hitting .198 with three home runs and 15 RBIs.
Although both Uribe and Ramirez swing the bat from the right side, Guillen could go with a split-starting job at second. Basically, he would stick with the hottest hitter or best fit for a given period.
"We can do that," Guillen said. "Whoever gets hot is going to play and I'm going to pick the matchups here and there and see what happens. Right now, I cannot say exactly what the move is going to be.
"You have to get the best out of [Uribe] when he's hot. When Uribe is hot, he can carry any ballclub in baseball. When Uribe is cold, he's frozen. I'm going to take the opportunity when he's playing well to play him."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.