Notes: Garcia hopes to get quicker

Notes: Garcia hopes to get quicker

CHICAGO -- With Jose Contreras on the mound in 2006, would-be base stealers have been successful in 7-of-11 stolen-base attempts. That's a success rate of 63.6 percent, but not even close to the worst on the team where the starting staff is concerned.

The Orioles picked up three stolen bases during Monday's 8-1 victory, all of them going against Chris Widger's statistics behind the plate. Widger is only 3-for-18 in thwarting baserunners during the 2006 campaign. But most of the blame Monday falls on White Sox starter Freddy Garcia, who has allowed an astonishing 23-of-24 successful stolen bases while he's on the mound.

"Freddy has never been quick to the plate, even when he pitched for Seattle," Widger said. "But it's part of the game."

That 95.8 percent opponents' stolen-base success rate does not sit quite as well with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. He clearly doesn't want Garcia's trouble with baserunners to stand as a regular problem, affecting the team in the long run.

Before Tuesday's game with the Orioles, Guillen said that the staff has tried to change the right-hander's habits in regard to holding on baserunners. The recommended adjustments haven't seemed to take hold.

"He's too slow to the plate. He seems like he can care less if a guy gets on second base, because he thinks he has good enough stuff to get them out," Guillen said. "He has to do a better job of holding the runners and make sure those guys don't get too good of a jump.

"I think Freddy has to be aware because it's killing him. Believe me, everyone in the league comes to face him and they are going to try to run. Even Jeff Conine's takeoff [Monday], and I don't say he's not speedy, but he's a pretty smart runner."

Guillen added that holding runners on base is an important aspect for pitchers, along the same line as throwing strikes, in terms of runs allowed. All three successful Baltimore basestealers on Monday eventually scored.

"Protect them, make sure you look at them," Guillen said. "And Freddy is not doing a good job at all and that hurts his [ERA]."

Pain on the infield: Joe Crede left Tuesday's 13-0 victory following the White Sox seven-run third inning.

Crede was struck by a Rodrigo Lopez pitch on his left forearm in the third, but stayed in after being checked out by Guillen and White Sox athletic trainer Herm Schneider. Crede scored a run, also scoring a run in the second, when he reached base with a one-out single. X-rays on Crede's contusion came back negative.

Rob Mackowiak replaced Crede at third base, making his first appearance at the position since May 16 at Tampa Bay. Mackowiak could be at third again Wednesday, depending on the condition of second baseman Tadahito Iguchi and Pablo Ozuna.

Iguchi and his sore left ankle, an injury suffered Monday night when he collided with Jermaine Dye on a popout to right, figures to be out of action for the next two or three days, according to Guillen, with Alex Cintron getting the start Tuesday. Ozuna's strained left hamstring appears to be close to health, with Guillen stating that the supersub was available Tuesday.

If Iguchi's injury requires a trip to the disabled list, Guillen mentioned infielder Robert Valido at Class A Winston-Salem or Jorge Velandia at Triple-A Charlotte as possible replacements. Valido impressed Guillen during Spring Training, but he hit only .208 for Double-A Birmingham before being moved to the Warthogs. The veteran Velandia, who plays all three infield positions, is hitting .294 with six home runs and 35 RBIs for the Knights.

Guillen will explore all of these possibilities before Wednesday's contest, with the health of Crede and Iguchi being pivotal in the decisions.

"Joe is fine, but tomorrow I will have two lineups posted," Guillen said. "I don't expect [Crede] to play. He got hit pretty good. I know he will be sore tomorrow, so we will make two lineups in case he can't play."

Buyers, sellers or standing pat? When asked about his team's role at the non-waiver trade deadline, coming at the end of July, Guillen said it was too early to speculate. But he did once again stand up for Brian Anderson, hitting .173 entering Tuesday's start, by stating that he wasn't looking for an upgrade in center field.

"I don't remember losing one game because of Brian," Guillen said. "He swings the bat a lot better and hits the ball hard with no luck. I like the way his approach at the plate is right now.

"But when we talk about holes, I don't think we lose games because of our center fielder. We didn't expect Brian to hit .200, but we also didn't expect him to hit .350. We have to bring this kid little by little, step by step. What he does is good for me. I'm happy where he is right now."

It has been easier to carry Anderson's struggles in the lineup with eighth hitter Juan Uribe's recent offensive emergence, including his three-run home run Tuesday. But even if a move is not made, Guillen likes the team he has this year even more than the group that won the World Series in 2005.

"These guys have gone about business the right way," Guillen said. "Our pitching has been a little bit inconsistent and so has our defense. But I think this ballclub has better talent than last year."

Rocket's red glare: Playing on the Fourth of July has not exactly been kind to the White Sox over the past 11 years, with the White Sox holding a 5-6 record on the holiday during that time frame. The White Sox and Orioles last met on the Fourth in 1993, with the White Sox claiming a 3-1 victory at Comiskey Park, and first-base coach Joey Cora, bench coach Tim Raines and Guillen accounting for all three runs.

But this particular Fourth of July has a slightly greater significance for Guillen, who is celebrating his first as an American citizen.

"It's awesome, but I have to work," Guillen said. "I feel like I'm an American since I got here. I am who I am because of the United States.

"I feel lucky and proud to be an American. A lot of people want to be in the position I am right now and I went through it, and now I am and I enjoy it."

Down on the farm: Kyle McCulloch, the White Sox first-round pick from the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, made his first Minor League start Monday during Great Falls' 6-1 loss to Helena. McCulloch did not factor in the decision, allowing one run on two hits over four innings, but the right-hander struck out five and walked one. ... Despite allowing six runs on eight hits over seven innings, Charlie Haeger improved to 9-2 overall with Charlotte's 7-6 victory at Norfolk. Pascual Matos led the offense with a home run and four RBIs.

Up next: Although it doesn't really compare to Jose Contreras' run of success, Jon Garland (7-3, 5.60) carries a three-game winning streak into Wednesday night's start against the Orioles. Garland is 3-0 with a 3.70 ERA in his last four games, and has a 2-2 record with a 4.73 ERA lifetime when facing Baltimore.

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