SEATTLE -- Dayan Viciedo made his long-awaited debut for the 2011 White Sox, playing right field, hitting a homer and driving in three runs during Sunday's 9-3 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field.
Manager Ozzie Guillen also said before the game that Paul Konerko could be back at first base by Tuesday against the Twins, after serving exclusively as designated hitter for 22 games because of a sore left calf/left knee caused by an Andrew Miller pitch on July 31.
That combination, along with strong play from Alejandro De Aza and Brent Lillibridge, Alex Rios' slight uptick offensively and Carlos Quentin's eventual return from a sprained left shoulder, only can mean one thing: Adam Dunn's playing time figures to be reduced considerably during the season's final month.
The White Sox are fighting for their playoff survival. Guillen needs to put the best lineup out there to compete, and Dunn's .163 average with 156 strikeouts does not make him one of the best options.
"Right now, we have to go by winning games," Guillen said. "If you are upset, you are sad, you are mad, whatever it is, you have to throw that thing away and keep playing.
"He can't make any excuse if we bench him. I've been taking a lot of heat from everyone, even from my own family, 'How long are you going to play him?' I have no choice.
"They bring this kid to play. I give him a lot of opportunities," Guillen said. "You know how many people [get on] me out there because of him? I don't care. I take it because I'm here for my players. Not for the fans or the people upstairs. I'm here for the players and I'm going to put the best players out there."
Guillen planned to chat with Dunn about his decision, just as he talked to Rios and Gordon Beckham when he gave them breaks. Dunn told MLB.com on Friday that he had hoped to salvage the season with a strong final month, but then fanned three times on Saturday. Dunn added that this 2011 debacle doesn't indicate a complete loss of his previously vast hitting ability. For now, the ongoing struggles will cost Dunn at-bats.
"He handles it very, very good. He never drags people down. He never put his head down," Guillen said. "He feels horrible because he can't help the ballclub. As a human being, I don't care how tough you are. You have to feel bad."
"I'm a realist. I'm not like an idiot," Dunn said of going to the bench. "We're right in the middle of things. What do you do? What do you say? I've done it to myself. It's not going to change the way I go about things. It's [awful]."
Some White Sox think Verlander has MVP case
SEATTLE -- The ultimate goal for the White Sox this season is to make up eight games on the Tigers over the final 32 to be played and start their improbable push to claiming a second World Series title since 2005.
But if Major League Baseball miracles just aren't on the agenda this year and the Tigers end up winning the American League Central, should Detroit ace Justin Verlander be considered for the AL Most Valuable Player?
Verlander already is the clear-cut leader for the AL Cy Young, an award designed specifically for pitchers. But a couple of White Sox pitchers believe Verlander's importance rates along the lines of everyday players such as Texas' Michael Young, Boston's Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury and the Yankees' Robinson Cano.
"Without a doubt," said White Sox closer Sergio Santos, when asked if Verlander should receive strong consideration for AL MVP. "What he does is give his team a pretty darn good chance to win every time he has that ball. That's what a most valuable player is, a guy who a team can't be where they are without this guy."
"It's hard to say, but I mean, yeah, I don't see why not," White Sox reliever Jesse Crain said. "He definitely should be a Cy Young guy, but now can a guy win Cy Young and MVP? I guess if he does what Verlander has done, then why not. Every time he goes out there, the team wins. He throws seven-plus innings most of the time, if not a complete game."
Crain was part of the 2004 and 2006 Twins, where Johan Santana proved to be almost as unbeatable as Verlander has been this season. The Minnesota left-hander won the Cy Young in both seasons, but Santana finished sixth in the 2004 MVP voting and seventh in 2006.
Dennis Eckersley was the last pitcher to win both the MVP and Cy Young, for Oakland in 1992, and Roger Clemens was the last starting pitcher to do so, for Boston in 1986. Verlander picked up his 20th win Saturday and has carried the Tigers every fifth day even when they didn't consistently show first-place mettle. He'll get a chance to further both resumes on Friday at Comerica Park against the White Sox.
"They have [Miguel] Cabrera and Victor Martinez also, but they always say teams win with great pitching," Crain said. "And if a guy is that dominant and pitches that well throughout the season, there's no question he can win both awards. It goes on a case-by-case basis, and this is a case where if it was to happen, I don't think anybody would complain about it."
Humber set for rehab start on Tuesday
SEATTLE -- The plan for Philip Humber is to travel to Norfolk on Tuesday and make a Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte, with A.J. Pierzynski doing the same for the Knights behind the plate.
Humber is scheduled to return for the Sept. 5 day-night doubleheader at Target Field, after being placed on the disabled list on Aug. 19 as result of a facial contusion from being hit by a Kosuke Fukudome line drive above the right eye. The bruise is completely gone from Humber's forehead, and the right-hander is ready to get back into action.
"I don't like sitting around for two weeks and not pitching," said Humber, who has an 8-8 record with a 3.63 ERA over 21 starts and 23 games this season. "That's part of it.
"I'm just anxious to get back out there and get back into a normal routine of pitching every five or six days, whatever it is, and not feeling like you are a fifth wheel. I'm excited."
White Sox set to see plenty of the AL Central
SEATTLE -- With the plethora of injuries Ron Gardenhire's crew has endured during the 2011 season, Ozzie Guillen is not surprised by the Twins sitting close to 20 games out of first place and falling closer to last than the American League Central's top spot. But the Twins certainly are not the lone negative surprise of the division, in Guillen's estimation.
"They have been saying the same things about us," Guillen said. "Everyone in the American League, are they surprised we are in third place? Of course they are. We are. But it has been a crazy season for the AL Central division."
Crazy, as in mediocre, that is until the Tigers recently asserted themselves. Monday's game against the Twins begins a stretch of 29 straight against the AL Central for the White Sox, from Aug. 29 to Sept. 25, with the South Siders featuring a 21-23 mark within the division. Six of those games are against the Tigers, with three coming this weekend at Comerica Park.
"It's going to be at least fun to go there and try to fight for something," Guillen said. "Hopefully we get some big hits and stay close to them when we play them."
Third to first
John Danks' shutout with 10 strikeouts on Saturday was the first of such nature for the White Sox since Alex Fernandez fanned 10 in a 5-0 win over Milwaukee on July 2, 1994, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Paul Konerko produced his 122nd career game of at least three hits during Sunday's 9-3 victory over Seattle. Konerko also played in career game No. 1,974.