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10/13/05 8:14 PM ET

Garland aims to put questions to rest

Rested righty takes the mound for pivotal Game 3

ANAHEIM -- How much rest is too much rest? Can a long layoff hurt or help? Those are just a few of the questions right-hander Jon Garland will begin to answer when he takes the mound for the White Sox on Friday in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.

Garland will be making his first appearance in the postseason and his first start since allowing two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings against Cleveland on Oct. 1.

"I've just been real anxious to get on the mound," Garland said. "I want to get out there on the field and help my team to the best of my ability. I've kind of been sitting back watching and cheerleading a little bit. It's been great because I love watching these guys play, but at the same time, I'm anxious to get out there and try and do my part."

What Garland has seen from the bench is quite a bit. He watched as fellow starters Jose Contreras, Mark Buerhle, and Freddy Garcia stymied the Red Sox in three games for the sweep in the American League Division Series. He had a front row seat for Contreras' stellar performance in Game 1 of the ALCS and Buehrle's splendid outing in Game 2.

His time has come. Or has it?

"I think about it a lot," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "One of the biggest reasons we moved him to third [in the ALCS rotation], not fourth, is because I don't want him to have another day off. Hopefully, this kid throws the ball well."

Garland posted an 18-10 record with a 3.50 ERA in 32 starts during the regular season. He established a career high in wins, innings pitched (221), ERA, strikeouts (115) and complete games (three).

After going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in April, Garland earned his first All-Star selection on the strength of a 13-4 record and a 3.38 ERA in the first half. The right-hander ran into a few more rough patches down the stretch, though. He went 4-6 with a 3.70 ERA after the break, including a 1-4 mark in August.

"April was the best month he had, and he was well rested," Guillen said. "That's the way I look at it, always positive. He had trouble in July, August, September, where for those months he was really struggling during that period of time. In April, May and June he was good because he was fresh. Hopefully, my philosophy works and helps him."

Even Garland is not exactly sure how his arm is going to respond Friday. There is one certainty, he does not want to be "too strong."

"With me, it seems sometimes my sinker is better when I'm tired," he said. "Hopefully a long layoff and not being on the mound doesn't make me too strong and takes away from the movement of the ball."

Pitching. Angels. Time off. Garland has a lot to think about so forgive him if he refuses to get nostalgic about Friday's start. He grew up in Southern California and was almost traded to the Angels for Darin Erstad before the 2002 season, but he chooses to focus on the task at hand instead of reminiscing about the past.

"I just want to pitch, I don't care where it's at," Garland said. "I want to get on the mound and do the best I can for my team."

It's time.

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.