ST. PETERSBURG -- With 10 hits in 26 lifetime at-bats against Tampa Bay starter James Shields, Mark Teahen earned the start at third base on Tuesday for the White Sox. The move had a second purpose in the mind of White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, giving Brent Morel and his 1-for-16 slump a day of rest.
"I want to give a break to Mo," Guillen said. "Mo swung the bat well [Monday]. But in the meanwhile, it's our job to try to protect the kid. I'm going to talk to him later on and tell him not to panic.
"When you're a kid and nobody is swinging well and we're not scoring and you're losing, first thing that goes through your mind is, 'Hopefully it's not me.' That's why I'm going to tell him to relax, and might give him back-to-back days off and give Teahen some at-bats. But I want him to relax and when he goes back in the lineup, maybe [Wednesday] or the next day, he's ready to play."
Morel is hitting .220 with seven RBIs. Teahen went 0-for-3 against Shields in the 2-1 White Sox loss.
White Sox relying on veterans for turnaround
ST. PETERSBURG -- There's a lack of panic around the White Sox slow start to the 2011 season for two primary reasons.
First off, it's a veteran team able to turn around bad fortunes quickly, and this opening funk covers only 17 games into the new campaign. One reason not being used to explain the calmness attached to the White Sox fourth-place standing in the American League Central is the fact Cleveland and Kansas City sit at the top of the division.
Neither team was figured to be anywhere close to contending this year, but at 12-4 entering Tuesday, the Indians were tied for Major League Baseball's best record. And the White Sox aren't overlooking a team they beat in two of three games to open this season in Cleveland.
"You can never think someone is going to go away," said White Sox reliever Matt Thornton of the Indians and Royals. "We beat up [Cleveland] the first few games and then they rattled off eight in a row. You don't win eight in a row by accident."
"All we can do is worry about ourselves," White Sox reliever Jesse Crain said. "Play the game we know we can and things will take care of themselves. We can't worry about what everyone else is doing."
Crain pointed to the 2010 Reds as an example of a team not favored to seriously contend which eventually reached the playoffs. The 2008 Rays are another prime rags-to-riches story.
Of course, past history doesn't automatically guarantee the Indians' lead over the White Sox will last another month, let alone the rest of the season. But as of mid-April, both the Indians and Royals have earned notice from the White Sox.
"Right now, Cleveland and Kansas City are better than us," Thornton said. "At the end of the year, will they be there? Nobody knows. That's why you play 162 games."
"Cleveland and Kansas City are in first place and they weren't supposed to win one game this year," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who sounded a warning about Cleveland following his team's season-opening 15-10 thumping. "They are young and hungry and pitch well. All the people behind the desk [on TV] and they are getting paid, with the guy from the production saying say this and that, they are wrong. You never know about baseball. You never know what's going to happen."
Thornton remains confident in bullpen
ST. PETERSBURG -- Felipe Lopez's leadoff home run in the eighth inning of Monday's 5-0 loss to the Rays was the lone blemish in an otherwise strong outing from Matt Thornton. Even Lopez's blast on an 0-2 slider wasn't as off the mark as the hard-throwing southpaw originally envisioned.
"I thought I hung the slider, but I went and looked at it, and it's a good pitch," said Thornton. "He did a good job of getting the barrel of the bat on the ball. Other than that, the next three batters were two strikeouts and a weak fly ball.
"Right now, I can't worry about numbers and all that stuff. It doesn't matter at all. Just continue to do what I did yesterday. Make good pitches. My velocity is there and so is my breaking ball. My pitches are there."
Thornton fanned two on Monday, hitting 98 mph on the speed gun. The White Sox haven't had a save situation since Chris Sale and Thornton couldn't hold a three-run, ninth-inning lead on April 13 against Oakland, but Thornton is confident the late-inning relievers will be ready when given the next opportunity.
"Our bullpen is going to be fine," Thornton said. "Sergio [Santos] is throwing the heck out of the ball. He's hot, and he's going to get a lot of late-inning situations."
Guillen preaches relaxation for struggling team
ST. PETERSBURG -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen saw long faces and players with their heads down following Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Rays. He wants his struggling group to take a step back and relax before this current six-game losing streak spirals out of control.
"It's easy to say that because I don't play. But that's what I see," Guillen said. "They have to go there and enjoy themselves. They're good and we know they're good."
Team captain Paul Konerko spoke of how the team should crumple up these recent losses and move forward.
"As much as it stinks to not play well or not do well as a team or as an individual, the only thing I know for sure is if you keep thinking about that, you will continue to be bad," Konerko said. "Other than that, there's no other answer. It will be OK when it's OK."
Third to first
John Danks hit two batters in one game for the first time in his career during Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Rays. Danks is 0-2 in his last three starts against the Rays, after going 5-1 in his first six. The White Sox are 0-2 on this 11-game, three-city road trip and 3-4 on the road overall. Thirteen of Carlos Quentin's 20 hits this season have gone for extra bases.