CHICAGO -- If Adam Dunn hadn't undergone an emergency appendectomy early Wednesday morning in Kansas City, then Brent Lillibridge wouldn't have been in the starting lineup for Thursday's home opener. But Lillibridge was pleased to have the opportunity, getting the nod in right field, with Carlos Quentin moving to designated hitter.Lillibridge finished 2-for-3 with one run scored, one RBI and two stolen bases in the 5-1 victory over the Rays.
"It's pretty cool," said Lillibridge of the start. "My wife is like, 'That is one of those things you hope to do every day.' It's a real honor.
"I love my role. To sit and look at our lineup, we have a real good team, a lot of talent all the way down the lineup. But to be a part of this team and a contributor, it's going to be for me personally a good thing. It's a great team. We don't have any guys in there trying to figure it out."
Lillibridge has proven to be most adept at handling the outfield challenge, although he admitted playing left field or right field has a different feel than being in center.
"Corners are tougher. The balls aren't going straight at you. They hook or fade," Lillibridge said. "I'm just looking forward to doing my job. Run some bases, chase the balls down in the outfield like a dog and go from there."
Need necessitates Milledge, Gray swap
CHICAGO -- Lastings Milledge certainly didn't do anything to earn the White Sox ire over the first five games of the 2011 regular season. In fact, manager Ozzie Guillen raved about Milledge's character and work ethic during his short time with the team.
But with the bullpen being taxed early and long reliever Phil Humber most likely getting the starting nod on Saturday, the White Sox needed pitching. So, Milledge was designated for assignment prior to Thursday's home opener against the Rays, and the contract of right-handed reliever Jeff Gray was purchased by the team.
"The need for a [12th] pitcher because of the extra-inning games and some of the other things that have been going on, we need another guy, and he was the guy chosen," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper of Gray joining the big league team. "He had a sideline two days ago, so he's ready to go."
"We don't want to overuse anyone and then all of a sudden, June or July, we regret it. That's the reason we did it," Guillen said. "Personally, it was very hard for me to do it. That's the hardest thing you can do. When you send someone down that has nothing to do with the situation, that's something."
Guillen called his talk with Milledge, which took place after the White Sox returned from Kansas City on Wednesday night, one of the toughest he has ever had as a manager. Milledge, 26, took the news like a professional and could return to the organization, if he clears waivers.
Gray, 29, was signed by the White Sox as a free agent on November 23, 2010, and was given a non-roster invite to Spring Training. He is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA (22 earned runs, 40 1/3 innings) in 36 Major League relief appearances with Oakland (2008-09) and the Cubs (2010).
White Sox have quick-strike ability
CHICAGO -- The four-run, ninth-inning rally put together by the White Sox against Royals closer Joakim Soria on Wednesday started with two outs, nobody on base and the White Sox down by three runs. It was reminiscent of a ninth-inning victory push by the White Sox against the Twins' Joe Nathan during the team's final game played in the Metrodome.
This potent lineup has the ability to strike quickly against the opposition in any inning, regardless of the situation.
"We've shown we can put up runs in a hurry," White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "That's always good. At the end of the game, if we are down, we always have that in our back pocket.
"Our thinking is, if we did not have a good game up to this point, the reason is it's about to happen. As long as you believe it's going to happen at some point, it bodes well for us."
Peavy ready for Double-A start Friday
CHICAGO -- Right-handed pitcher Jake Peavy has a target of five innings and/or 75 pitches during his rehab start for Double-A Birmingham on Friday.
His set days to throw are April 8, 13, 18, 23 and 28, with Peavy hoping to return to the Majors after throwing back-to-back 100-pitch efforts. Nothing is etched in stone, though, for his comeback.
"Who knows? Something may come up, God forbid," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. "So, those are his days to throw, and we'll roll with whatever comes our way.
"Could it be earlier? It could. Could it be later? It could. We just have see how things lay out."
Peavy is working his way back from rotator cuff tendinitis, which shut down his comeback after a Spring Training start on March 19.
Third to first
Edwin Jackson's 10 strikeouts over the first five innings of Thursday's 5-1 victory over the Rays made him the first White Sox pitcher to reach that mark since Javier Vazquez on Sept. 21, 2006, against Detroit. Brent Morel has hit in 11 straight dating back to last season. Alex Rios is 6-for-16 in his last three games, after going 0-for-12 in his first three. Rios also is 7-for-11 lifetime off Tampa Bay's David Price. The White Sox have led in all six games this season. Sergio Santos has not given up a run in 2011, including Spring Training and three games during the regular season.