Notes: Uribe, Anderson heating up

Notes: Uribe, Anderson heating up

MINNEAPOLIS -- Think about this little offensive equation being solved by the already potent White Sox lineup. Then again, it might not be something to ponder for opposing pitchers soon to face the South Siders.

Entering Monday's series finale at the Metrodome, the White Sox were tied for third in runs scored at 203, stood fourth in home runs at 50, and ranked fifth in the American League with a .281 average. These statistics were put up without much help from Juan Uribe or Brian Anderson in the eighth and nine spots of the lineup.

That is, until the past week or so. Just days after manager Ozzie Guillen joked about the balance in his lineup, with a group of hitters over .300 and a couple under .200, both Uribe and Anderson have started to take off. Anderson had two hits and a run scored Sunday, raising his average to .187, while Uribe's three hits Sunday put the shortstop squarely at .200. Uribe was hitless in five at-bats during Monday's 7-3 victory, falling back down to .191, but he still looks to be moving toward one of his patented and often lengthy hot streaks.

"Yeah, both are making progress, after they dug themselves a little bit of a hole," said White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker of Uribe and Anderson. "Juan has come out of it before. He's been a streaky hitter the last two years and he's proven that when he does get on a roll, he can really run it out.

"Brian, since Ozzie gave him those days off, his at-bats have been a lot better. He's getting results and he's just got to keep doing what he's been doing."

Both Walker and Guillen praised Anderson for the way he has mentally handled his offensive struggles. Guillen mentioned being slightly irked by Anderson hanging his head after a strikeout during a game a couple of weeks ago in Cleveland, a point he quickly made to the rookie.

"I'm not going to deal with that," Guillen said. "Just give me the best you have in every at-bat. He was a little embarrassed and I got a little mad at him."

The continued improvement of Uribe and Anderson, though, simply makes a powerful and improved unit that much stronger.

"Our power game in the middle has been really good all year," Walker said. "Our small ball game is doing well, and we are doing well in situational hitting. So, I have no complaints right now. Everything is good."

Bring on the Cubs: Jose Contreras threw a full-blown side session Monday morning. While he wasn't satisfied with his control, according to Guillen, Contreras took another major step in returning to the mound this Sunday against the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field.

"It sure looks like we are going in the right direction. That's nice to see. He was very strong," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper of Contreras. "The other day was basically taking it out for a test run, and that test run turned into more than I thought we would do on that day.

"So, obviously he felt good. Today, he threw all of his pitches from all his angles. If he feels good the rest of today and tomorrow, we are really looking like we are in a good spot."

Contreras will throw a final sideline Thursday in St. Petersburg, in preparation for his to-be-announced start, which would be in the series finale of the crosstown showdown. Cooper added a pitch count was not kept on Monday, although an unofficial total came in somewhere around 76.

Basically, Contreras threw enough to have a good workout, using all his pitches, from all of his various angles.

"He's the type from what we've seen so far, that when he has a little something, we want to make sure he has a couple of times to get it out of his head," said Cooper of Contreras working through his bout of sciatica. "And today it sure looks like it was out of his head. He's looking good."

Leading the way: Starting off a season mired in a 3-for-38 slump certainly will be quite a bit more noticeable than if that same hitting funk came 200 at-bats or so into the campaign. Scott Podsednik understood that fact, as he dealt with that exact issue in April, coming off of his All-Star effort in 2005.

But with three hits Sunday and three more Monday, Podsednik raised his average to .300 and is hitting .519 over a seven-game hitting streak, which was extended to seven Monday via his second-inning home run. The fleet-footed leadoff man has been pulling pitches to right almost as frequently as he's been hanging out line drives the other way. Mix in a bunt single or an infield hit or two, and Podsednik appears to have a full offensive repertoire back at his disposal.

"I don't want to sit here and jinx it, but as far as what I can bring to the table as a player, I'm capable of doing it all right now," said Podsednik, who finished 8-for-14 in the four games against the Twins. "With my approach and the way I'm feeling up there, I would like to continue this ride for as long as I can.

"Right now is where I pretty much need to be," Podsednik added.

Podsednik hasn't made any significant changes to his swing to improve his fortunes at the plate. It's simply a matter of confidence and gradually working his way back into top form.

"More confidence and a better feel," Podsednik said. "It's all feel with me. Some days I have it and some days I don't. I've maintained that feel over the past couple of weeks."

Third to first: Guillen still has not heard from the MLB office in New York in regard to a possible fine or suspension for Saturday's ejection and postgame diatribe concerning the ejection. ... Jim Thome has three home runs and seven RBIs in seven games against the Twins. His home run Sunday night was his 24th at the Metrodome, the most by any opponent of the Twins at the Metrodome, and Thome has 23 home runs in his last 41 games -- dating back to Spring Training. ... The White Sox have held the lead, at some point, in 183 of their last 217 games dating back to 2004, including 32 of 37 this season.

Down on the farm: Josh Fields continued his torrid pace at the plate with a 5-for-5 showing during Triple-A Charlotte's 7-3 victory over Louisville on Sunday. Fields has homered in four straight games, including two on Sunday, giving him eight for the season. Jeff Nelson threw one scoreless inning, while Javier Lopez lowered his ERA to 0.44 with two strikeouts over two perfect innings for his sixth save. ... Tyler Lumsden improved to 4-1, allowing four hits over eight innings, as part of Double-A Birmingham's 5-2 victory over Mississippi. Lumsden has a 2.91 ERA over 46 1/3 innings, with 33 strikeouts, while Lance Broadway is 4-1 with a 1.42 ERA over 50 2/3 innings pitched.

Up next: It's start No. 1 of the 2006 campaign for Brandon McCarthy (2-1, 5.21 ERA), who has previously been used exclusively out of the bullpen. McCarthy, who will be limited to between 60 and 70 pitches against Tampa Bay, will be opposed by Scott Kazmir (5-2, 2.94 ERA).

Scott Merkin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.