SEATTLE -- It seems hard to understand that a reliever such as Sergio Santos, with 26 saves in 30 opportunities, still does not have the 2011 White Sox closer's title.
Manager Ozzie Guillen decided rookie southpaw Chris Sale was the best late-inning hurler to guard over Friday's 4-2 advantage with three left-handed hitters scheduled to hit among the Mariners' first four batters.
That particular decision worked, as Sale cruised through the ninth to help the White Sox move within one game of .500. And with the White Sox playoff hopes in a precarious state, at best, official jobs have been supplanted by sheer victories.
"Right now, I don't think we are looking for closer or setup or anything," Guillen said. "We are looking for wins. We will continue to put the best matchups out there."
Guillen made it clear that he holds the utmost confidence in Santos, so much so that he believes the 28-year-old has what it takes to go into Spring Training as the White Sox one and only closer. That job becomes especially easy to decipher if Sale moves to the starting rotation, as expected.
The relative pitching inexperience of the one-time Minor League infielder also factors into Guillen being careful as to how Santos is used.
"Situations have come up where I need to use Sale, because [Santos] is not Mariano [Rivera] or Bobby Jenks," Guillen said. "He's just learning the process to be a closer. I think this kid, he learned it pretty fast and he earned it. He should be the closer here."
"Really, it's kind of a tough thing to explain," Santos said. "I would love to be the closer, even though I still haven't been given that title. So when they call down and tell me to get ready, I'll get ready and I'll throw. And if we are winning games, I'm happy at the end of the day."
Happiness now doesn't preclude Santos from wanting a more defined role in the future.
"At some point, I would like to know," said Santos, who has fanned 73 over 52 2/3 innings. "Right now, I'm nowhere near an established closer to where I'm the one defined guy.
"To become an established guy, you have to get the majority of opportunities and be successful. I look at every opportunity I get as a chance to establish myself more and more. Hopefully, the more chances I get, the more success I have."
Pierzynski to rehab at Charlotte
SEATTLE -- After taking batting practice from bullpen coach Juan Nieves and assistant hitting coach Mike Gellinger before Saturday's game at Safeco Field, A.J. Pierzynski expressed his desire to rejoin the White Sox on Sunday when he becomes eligible to return from the disabled list.
But in an e-mail to MLB.com, general manager Ken Williams explained that Pierzynski needs at-bats. So, the White Sox catcher once again will test his fractured left wrist from Tuesday to Thursday, this time with Triple-A Charlotte, before returning in Detroit this Friday.
"The bottom line is I'm going to go up there and swing at whatever they throw up there, and if I hit it, I hit it. If I don't, I don't," said Pierzynski, who had never been on the disabled list previously in his big league career. "It's not going to change. Will it help me to go? I don't know. I've never done it.
"In my mind, I'm ready to go [on Sunday]. Physically, I feel great. If it was up to me, I would rather use my bullets in a big league game than a rehab game. But it's not my decision, and I'll just do what I'm told."
Manager Ozzie Guillen mentioned that Pierzynski still was feeling a little of the after-effects of the fracture when catching. But Pierzynski has expressed no difficulty, and certainly seemed pleased by his early bat work on Saturday.
"I got a lot of swings in, and I felt good," Pierzynski said.
Ozzie looking to calm Viciedo hype
SEATTLE -- Dayan Viciedo was called up from Triple-A Charlotte prior to Saturday's game with the Mariners, replacing Carlos Quentin, who went on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to Aug. 21) with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder.
Look for Viciedo to get regular playing time, a contingency built into the phenom's promotion and basically halting any earlier callup this season. But manager Ozzie Guillen still wants to pick the best spots for Viciedo to succeed, and avoid the hype machine that seemed to roll over Gordon Beckham after his standout rookie effort in 2009.
"I expect him to do well, I'm rooting for him to do well. But this is a different baseball game up here," Guillen said. "People in Chicago placing an expectation, keep it low key. That happened to Gordon Beckham a few years ago, where people thought he was the next Mickey Mantle playing second base.
"They put a lot of expectation on him like, 'Wow, this kid is going to be a superstar.' The expectation was too high, and [we didn't] let the kid grow up and be a baseball player. I think we -- and I include myself -- [handled it] in the wrong way. Like, 'Wow, this is the guy.' I wish we handled every one like [Brent] Morel.
"We did a very poor -- I don't want to say marketing or PR -- [job with] how Beckham is. The same thing can happen to Viciedo," Guillen said. "How I played Viciedo last year was perfect. The guy he can handle it better. We have a good idea how to make the lineup with the kids."
Third to first
Alex Rios was scratched from Saturday's starting lineup with a bruised right hand that was stepped on Friday night. X-rays were negative and he is day to day. Alejandro De Aza moved from right field to center, with Brent Lillibridge starting in right.
Paul Konerko, who has been dealing with a sore left calf and knee since getting hit by a pitch on July 31, told Guillen that he might be able to play first base on Monday at home against the Twins.
The White Sox road record of 36-29 is fourth best in the American League. Their 29-36 home record is second-worst behind the Twins.
Juan Pierre has hit in eight straight.