DETROIT -- Liberally using the entire 25-man roster was Ozzie Guillen's distinctive trademark during his first year as manager of the White Sox. That plan hasn't changed in 2005, with bench players from Pablo Ozuna to Timo Perez to backup catcher Chris Widger already receiving multiple starts in the first 15 games. That plan seems to be working perfectly for everyone but Ross Gload, the left-handed-hitting utility man, who had just one hit in six at-bats, and one start, prior to Thursday's series finale at Comerica Park. But the lack of playing time doesn't worry the 29-year-old, who had the same paltry opportunities early last season, only to become one of the American League's hottest hitters during the season's final month. "I can't remember last year how many at-bats I had going into this point, so it's not a big deal," Gload said. "We are winning and that's the whole idea. We've changed things to the point that we got better, and like I said before, the guys on the bench, their role will be decreased to that point."
Gload hit .321, with seven home runs and 44 RBIs over 234 at-bats, during his first full chance to perform at the Major League level. With the plethora of injuries that knocked down the White Sox in 2004, Gload became an everyday starter at first base during September, and won the American League Rookie of the Month award with a .403 average, four home runs and 16 RBIs. In fact, Gload's .372 average after Aug. 1 ranked second in the AL behind Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki (.419). If Gload played first base on a regular basis, he probably would contend for a Gold Glove. His defense is that smooth. But there lies the problem for Gload in terms of getting on the field. He plays behind Paul Konerko, who rarely takes a day off, and while he started 15 times in right field, nine in left and even once in center last year, Gload's current outfield days seem to be few and far between. During Spring Training, Gload played only one "B" game in the outfield. Part of the reason for his absence could have been nagging soreness in his left shoulder, but that problem has long since cleared up. Now, Gload waits patiently for his next chance to play first base, not knowing how comfortable he will be roaming the outfield. "That's my second-best position," said Gload, who still takes outfield during batting practice. "I haven't been out there since probably last August, and I haven't played at game speed there in a while. But I'm out there working on it. I've never been a regular outfielder, so to go out there, it's an adjustment." No minor matter: With young hurlers such as Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and even Freddy Garcia currently anchoring the White Sox pitching staff and Minor League phenom Brandon McCarthy waiting in the wings at Triple-A Charlotte, the South Siders appear stocked with strong arms for years to come. But take a look at the starting rotation for Class A Kannapolis of the South Atlantic League to get an idea of White Sox contributors five or six years down the line. Gio Gonzalez leads the league in strikeouts with 27. Ray Liotta, a left-hander like Gonzalez, picked up his second win Wednesday night and has a 2.00 ERA over three starts. Dave Wilder, the director of player development, also speaks highly of Lucas Harrell, Grant Hansen and Adam Russell. "Gonzalez is special," Wilder said. "But we really have five real prospects on that staff, and all of them are draft picks." While Gonzalez, the second of the White Sox's two sandwich picks between the first and second rounds of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, has been dominant, Tyler Lumsden has not been as fortunate. The team's first sandwich pick had bone spurs removed from his pitching elbow in the offseason, basically sidelining him for the entire 2005 campaign. "It's nothing major, and without a doubt, we still have high hopes for him," said Wilder of Lumsden. "He's upbeat, a hard worker and his makeup is great. It's jut a matter of getting him back out there. "A majority of the pitchers have [bone spurs] just from pitching any length of time. It just got to the point for Lumsden that it needed to be taken care of because it got so uncomfortable." Wilder didn't seem overly concerned with Charlotte's 1-12 start. He pointed to the inactivity for pitchers Robert Person, Felix Diaz and Tetsu Yofu, all out of action because of injuries, as part of the team's problem. Wilder also mentioned that Jeremy Giambi is about one week away from joining the Knights. Down on the farm: Jon Adkins pitched better than his first two trips to the mound, striking out eight over six innings, but Charlotte still dropped a 1-0 decision at Toledo. Brian Anderson had two hits, including his fifth double. Sean Tracey improved to 2-0, fanning seven over six innings of one-run ball, leading Double-A Birmingham to a 5-4 victory over Jacksonville. Bobby Jenks picked up his Southern League-leading sixth save. Thomas Collaro launched his fifth home run, tops in the Carolina League, and drove in four, but Class A Winston-Salem dropped a 7-6 decision at Myrtle Beach. Ricardo Nanita hit his first home run and drove in two. Coming soon: The White Sox get a look at three of Kansas City's top young arms this weekend, starting Friday night (7:10 p.m. ET) with Runelvys Hernandez at Kauffman Stadium. Freddy Garcia gets the call for Chicago, making his first night start, after three afternoon trips to the mound.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.