8/30/2014 11:44 P.M. ET
Ventura uses Abreu at DH to give slugger rest
By Daniel Kramer and Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- White Sox slugger Jose Abreu brushed aside any health concerns by going a combined 4-for-6 during the team's split doubleheader Saturday against the Tigers.
Abreu left Friday's 7-1 loss after seven innings because of soreness in his upper left leg, for which he's been receiving treatment.
"It's been bothering me a little bit, but I'm doing everything I can to play and just working on it," Abreu said through interpreter and White Sox director of public relations Lou Hernandez. "It isn't an injury, it's just something that's bothering me."
Abreu was the designated hitter for the twin bill, a move to limit his mobility.
"Just DH-ing him and trying to give him little breaks when you can," Ventura said on Saturday morning. "Like last night, you take him out late and give him a little breather and even today."
"You get to a point where you get into a game and point in the season where you're playing so many games. It's his first time through it, so I think he's reacting to it for the first time. Just talking to him, he understands it. He still wants to play. He's still competitive and wants to be out there and play against the best players."
The 27-year-old is 7-for-9 after three of four in the weekend series -- including two games started by a pair of Cy Young Award winners, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.
Ventura noted that the physical toll of the season is particularly burdensome, since Abreu consistently gets on base. He was still seen limping, however, on the basepath during Saturday's finale.
"You get a little more tired because you're always running -- and he hits a lot of doubles, so he's stretching it out," Ventura said. "That's what happens to good players. I told him: 'If you hit more home runs, you don't have to run as hard.' The good news is that he doesn't steal a lot of bases, so at least he's got that going for him."
Abreu has played in 121 games this season -- more than any season of his five-year career in Cuba.
"I had a lot of people telling me and alerting how this was going to be," Abreu said on Tuesday.
When asked if he'd scaled back his workouts, Abreu said: "Not at all. I'm actually doing a little bit more work now so I can finish strong. I feel like it's helped me do a little bit more. I'm trying to do more, and I'm feeling good about it."
A candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, Abreu was asked what it would mean to win a batting title. The slugger's average stands at .321.
"You look at it, there really aren't enough games," Abreu said. "And honestly the numbers and a batting title, that really doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is doing what I can to help the team win."
La Russa hopes energy builds on South Side
CHICAGO -- Tony La Russa had one request Saturday night after he threw out a ceremonial first pitch at U.S. Cellular Field prior to the night portion of Saturday's split doubleheader with the Tigers.
He wants the fans' passion back on the South Side of Chicago.
"In those days, you could feel that passion and support," said La Russa, who managed the White Sox from 1979-86 and won the American League West title by 20 games in '83. "This organization is still great and our fans need to get behind these guys because the more you come out, the better they play. This organization really deserves that. I love this organization."
La Russa was accompanied by his authentic Hall of Fame plaque, as part of his induction with the historic 2014 class that included White Sox legend Frank Thomas. The manager, who accumulated 2,728 wins and three World Series titles, has nothing but fond memories of his stay in Chicago.
"I remember when I made the decision not to have a logo [on my Hall of Fame plaque]," La Russa said. "The first thing I said was, no way I would disrespect where it started. The times in Chicago were wonderful because the idea of the family feeling.
"We were all engaged. Everybody in the organization was working to make the ballclub be successful and then the joy we felt in '83. I had some really magical moments, but like I said, they're tied for first. Winning that first one, that excitement, of 'Nah Nah, hey, hey ... ' You can't top that. You can tie it, but can't top it."
White Sox shuffle roster with series of moves
CHICAGO -- The White Sox optioned left-handed reliever Eric Surkamp following Saturday's doubleheader, and traded Alejandro De Aza to the Orioles for a pair of pitching prospects.
Friday's starter Scott Carroll was also optioned to Triple-A Charlotte before Saturday's twin bill to make room for right-hander Chris Bassitt, who was recalled from Double-A Birmingham to make his MLB debut in Game 2. Surkamp was the team's 26th man for the doubleheader, recalled from Charlotte for the third time this season.
"You are going to have some guys up here that those are positions that now have opportunities," manager Robin Ventura said after his club split the day's action with a 6-3 Game 1 win and an 8-4 nightcap loss. "You are going to see some guys in there that are different than what we've had for the last couple of years. They are going to get a chance."
Ventura confirmed that Carroll, a rookie, would return to the White Sox rotation this season, but didn't indicate if it would be Monday when rosters expand to 40 men.
"I would imagine he's still in there," Ventura said pregame. "I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be back in there."
Ventura said on Thursday that the White Sox could go to a six-man rotation during the final month of the season. Who those pitchers would be remains to be seen. The team acquired right-handers Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas from Baltimore for De Aza.
Blackmar, 22, is 10-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 26 games with Carolina League Class-A Frederick. Chalas is 3-4 with a 4.48 ERA between Frederick and Class AAA Norfolk of the International League, where he's gone 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in two games.
Carroll is 5-9 with a 5.07 ERA in 16 starts, and had a one-month stint in the bullpen from May to June before returning to the rotation. He is under club control for three more years.
Bassitt was charged with the loss Saturday night, going 6 1/3 innings with five earned runs on seven hits, and four walks with four strikeouts.
"You can't make mistakes here, so that's the biggest thing," Bassitt said. "Getting ahead early is definitely important. Limiting walks, you can't give anyone free baserunners in this league. I know I still have some things to work on. Not overthrow, that's another one. But I mean, we'll go from here. Nice building block."
Bassitt had a 3-1 record with a 1.56 ERA, a .206 average against, 36 strikeouts and 14 walks in 34 2/3 innings over six starts with Birmingham. He didn't debut this year until July 12, after breaking his pitching hand in non-baseball activities.
Third to first
• Chicago and Detroit trotted out two starters -- Bassitt and Kyle Ryan, respectively -- making their Major League debut for the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, for the first time since Sept. 21, 1963. In that game, Detroit's Denny McLain allowed three runs (one earned) on seven hits to pick up the victory over Chicago's Fritz Ackley, who was credited with a no-decision after allowing two earned runs over six innings.
• Adam Eaton is batting .435 (10-for-23) since returning from the disabled list after the first game of Saturday's doubleheader.
Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.