Ozzie: Contreras needs 'better stuff'
White Sox manager concerned about starter's wildness
CHICAGO -- The exact question asked of Ozzie Guillen during Wednesday's pregame interview session centered on the team's selection for a fifth starter this Saturday at home against Cleveland.
Instead of confirming for the temporary vacancy Carlos Torres or Wes Whisler, both of whom are currently on target to pitch, the White Sox manager chose to address the struggles of Jose Contreras, his fourth starter.
"I want to see Jose with better stuff," said Guillen, after mentioning that he needed to speak with general manager Ken Williams before making a decision for Saturday. "The last three outings Jose had were just boring.
"You get beat, just get beat like [Mark] Buehrle gets beat. Quick. Get out of there. But we'll talk to him about trying to get his motion and picking up the pace. We can deal with that."
Contreras looked like a new pitcher, or a version closer to the hurler who won a franchise record 17 straight from Aug. 21, 2005 to July 4, 2006, after he returned from a requested stint with Triple-A Charlotte on June 8. But after posting a 4-2 record in his ensuing six starts and dropping his ERA from 8.19 to 4.54, the right-hander has hit a bit of a wild streak.
Including Tuesday's no-decision against the Angels, covering a mere 2 2/3 innings of work, Contreras has issued 15 free passes and allowed 14 earned runs on 21 hits over his last four starts and 19 1/3 innings. Guillen blames the struggles on Contreras' return to a slow pace on the mound, while Contreras believes his shoulder might be flying open on delivery.
These struggles are troublesome for Contreras, but made a littler easier on Tuesday by a White Sox victory, unlike his previous three starts.
"Of course, I feel bad, because I only threw three innings, but the team won," said Contreras through interpreter Ozzie Guillen Jr. "And if the next start I throw three innings and the team wins again, and they make it to the playoffs, that's what I'm here for. I'm here for the team to win and not my personal record."
Guillen wouldn't argue against the winning part, but certainly would like to see Contreras work at least six innings, which he accomplished in just one of his past four trips to the mound. Tuesday's short outing led to four innings of work for D.J. Carrasco, leaving him unavailable for Wednesday's game.
Carrasco's value in the middle probably would rule him out of a spot start on Saturday. The White Sox have 13 pitchers for the Angels series, protecting the bullpen when Carrasco was called into starting duty last Friday after Clayton Richard was traded. Closer Bobby Jenks remained unavailable due to continued problems with a kidney stone, though a White Sox team spokesman said the issue was taken care of Wednesday, and Jenks should return by Friday at the latest.
But in order for the White Sox bullpen to avoid too much usage and to keep Carrasco from burning out by the start of September, starters such as Contreras need to be able to work deeper into games. As Guillen joked on Wednesday afternoon, his long reliever against the Angels was starter Gavin Floyd.
"He better be out there," said Guillen with a laugh of Wednesday's starter. "That's why it was frustrating to see Jose. It was a tough decision to make last night, but I always say don't worry about tomorrow when you have to take care of something today. That's what we did."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.