DETROIT -- Alex Rios played Game No. 1,270 without reaching the postseason during Friday's series-opening, 7-4 victory for the Tigers over the White Sox.
The White Sox right fielder ranks fifth in that dubious category among active players, with teammate Adam Dunn sitting at the top with 1,700 games without the playoffs. Needless to say, this final month of the 2012 campaign will be an especially exciting one for the 31-year-old veteran and certainly not just because of the impressive individual turnaround he has produced in comparison to 2011.
"Well, this whole season has been so much fun," said Rios, who is hitting .300 with 20 homers, 75 RBIs, 31 doubles and 20 stolen bases. "It feels good to come to the field with a purpose. We have to win and we have to have that winning mentality every night.
"I personally believe that you get more into the game when you are in this situation because it's more intense. Every win counts and every loss hurts. It's good to play at that intensity level."
Individual awards currently are being discussed along with the teams that will survive this final 30-game run. Chris Sale, who starts Sunday night at Comerica Park, has been mentioned as an American League Cy Young candidate, while Dunn, Rios and Friday starter Jake Peavy frequently get put at the top of the list for Comeback Player of the Year.
Rios' contributions both at the plate and back in his familiar environs of right field have placed his name in as a remote Most Valuable Player candidate, along with teammate A.J. Pierzynski, trailing front-runners Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton and Derek Jeter. Much like the attitude fostered by the White Sox as a team since the start of the season, the only trophy Rios wants to hold is the one representing a World Series title.
"None of us are focusing on statistics right now," Rios said. "We have our goals set. We are here to win games. We are here to play as a team and do what we have to do to play late in October.
"That's a good thing that none of us have been thinking about statistics. You don't see any selfishness going on and that's one of the things that gets us here to the point that we are a legitimate team to go to the playoffs."
Wise more than capable as De Aza's fill-in
DETROIT -- In 17 starts with the White Sox, center fielder Dewayne Wise has a .284 average with three homers and 10 RBIs. Those numbers stand strong despite Wise having just two hits in his last 18 at-bats entering Friday's series opener against the Tigers.
Wise's exclusive starting role figures to come to an end as early as Sunday, when Alejandro De Aza returns from an injury rehab assignment to test his bruised left ribs. And Wise is prepared for the change to a reserve role.
"Once he got back, I knew my playing time would be cut short a little bit. I expected that," said Wise. "But I understand that.
"He went on the disabled list and I got a chance to play. Plus, he's done a great job at the top of the lineup. He's having a great year. Whatever happens when he gets back, I'm going to continue to prepare myself to stay ready just in case I have to go in a game or get a spot-start here and there."
Along with giving the White Sox a huge boost in De Aza's absence, Wise clearly has proven he can be counted on as more than just a defensive replacement or pinch-runner through his 2012 play with the Yankees and in Chicago. Wise has been good enough that manager Robin Ventura will find spots to get him into the starting lineup during the season's final month.
"You do that and see how they're both doing, see how he's [De Aza] doing and then go from there," Ventura said. "Dewayne has done well for us."
"Sometimes when you get an opportunity to play, you gotta take advantage of it," Wise said. "I mean, I always felt I could do it like that, but I'm just thankful for the opportunity."
Callups for stretch run expected to be minimal
DETROIT -- Reserve catcher Tyler Flowers returns from the paternity list on Saturday following the birth of his daughter, Mia Therese, and utility infielder Orlando Hudson figures to join him when rosters expand. Hudson has been on an injury rehab assignment after being placed on the disabled list with a left foot contusion.
As for the other September additions, White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the team is still going through the possibilities. Triple-A Charlotte has qualified for the International League playoffs, meaning the callups could be staggered.
"We are the first concern, but you don't want to strip them down," Ventura said. "We'll have a few guys tomorrow. And then after their playoffs are over, we'll have more guys.
"There's going to be a lot of the same guys who were up early in the year. It's not going to be one of those where you're going to get a lot of guys who you guys haven't seen. It's close to the same guys."
Dylan Axelrod not only will be added but should start Monday's home contest against the Twins. Left-handed reliever Leyson Septimo, on a rehab assignment for left biceps inflammation, figures to be a candidate, as do right-handed relievers Jhan Marinez and Brian Omogrosso, who previously pitched for the White Sox this season.
The White Sox outrighted left-handed pitcher Daniel Moskos to Triple-A Charlotte on Friday, putting the team's 40-man roster at 39. That move could open up a spot for a left-handed pinch-hitter such as veteran Dan Johnson, a speed guy off the bench or another possible move made by general manager Ken Williams prior to Friday's 10:59 p.m. CT deadline to have a player eligible for the postseason roster.
"There are also a lot of guys who aren't coming [up]," Ventura said. "There's not really a need for that many of them, but eventually it will be good to have."
Third to first
Manager Robin Ventura had an interesting take when asked Friday if the approach to this weekend's series with Detroit is different because the White Sox are the hunted team atop the American League Central.
"We're always the hunted," Ventura said. "That's just one of those that everyone is the hunted. Nobody goes out there and gives you anything, so whether you're in first place or third place, everyone plays hard. So for us, it doesn't change."
Class A Winston-Salem put five players on the Carolina League postseason All-Star Team, with first baseman Dan Black leading the way as the Carolina League Most Valuable Player. Infielder Carlos Sanchez, outfielders Brady Shoemaker, Trayce Thompson and Michael Earley (utility spot) also were honored. Sanchez and Thompson currently are playing for the playoff-bound squad at Triple-A Charlotte.
Tommy Thompson earned Manager of the Year honors. The Dash held the best record in the Carolina League and second-best among full-season Minor League teams at 84-50. Gordon Beckham was struck in the right hand by a Doug Fister pitch in the second inning of Friday's 7-4 loss to the Tigers but only suffered a bruise. Kevin Youkilis lost part of a nail on his right hand when it was struck by Jhonny Peralta's grounder leading off the eighth. The ball bounced to shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who threw out Peralta.