Twins-White Sox postponed by cold

Twins-White Sox postponed by cold

CHICAGO -- The Friday night forecast in Chicago called for a low of 22 degrees, with winds out of the Northwest ranging from 25-to-30 mph. Those frigid conditions and a near-zero wind-chill factor were reason enough for the White Sox to cancel their series opener against the Twins.

This particular postponement will be re-scheduled on a date to be determined. With the conditions expected to be equally cold on Saturday, including a chance for snow showers, the possibility of a doubleheader was ruled out.

In actuality, Friday's weather-induced off-day comes at a pretty good time for the somewhat battered White Sox pitching staff. During the opening three-game set against the Indians, starters Jose Contreras (one-plus inning), Jon Garland (5 1/3 innings) and Mark Buehrle (1 1/3 innings) combined to work just 7 2/3 innings.

Not exactly the late-in-the-game total general manager Ken Williams or pitching coach Don Cooper expected from one of baseball's deepest rotations. With the bullpen having pitched 19 1/3 total innings, 7 2/3 of that bunch coming from right-handed rookie Nick Masset, Friday's respite gives them a chance to regroup and get ready for two games against Minnesota and the upcoming six-game road trip in Oakland and Cleveland.

"Not even so much the entire bullpen," said Cooper, on his way to U.S. Cellular Field Friday to supervise Garland's side session and a good workout for the rest of his staff. "Masset, for sure, but we would have still been okay.

"It gives us all one more day. Our starters went [7 2/3 innings] of the possible 27, but we still found some positive things where we can start to build on."

Cooper pointed to a couple of strong outings from closer Bobby Jenks, David Aardsma's five-strikeout effort over two shutout innings Wednesday, a solid effort from Mike MacDougal on Thursday and Masset being stretched out in elaborating those particular positives. Masset's extended work in relief on Thursday, covering 4 2/3 innings of one-run pitching, might be the most important effort of the bunch, and not just because he saved the South Siders' relief corps and kept the White Sox in position for a victory.

Buehrle was struck by a Ryan Garko line drive just below the left elbow and just above the left forearm in the second inning of Thursday's series finale, bringing to an end the shortest start of his career. X-rays were negative, and Buehrle mentioned Thursday how White Sox athletic trainer Herm Schneider already had reduced some of the swelling in the affected area.

When Cooper talked to Buehrle on Friday morning, the left-hander described himself as stiff and sore but it was the sort of reaction expected after Thursday's injury. As of Friday night, following more treatment on Buehrle's pitching arm, the left-handed ace was penciled in for Wednesday afternoon's start against Oakland.

An original idea tossed around earlier in the day was to skip Danks' Major League debut and push him back to the Oakland series. After further discussion during Friday's informal workout, the White Sox decided to bump Javier Vazquez back to Saturday and keep Danks on turn for his Sunday start.

That rotation alignment leaves the 21-year-old southpaw working against Minnesota's Johan Santana, the defending AL Cy Young award winner, who has a 1.51 ERA and 100 strikeouts over his last 95 1/3 innings against the White Sox. When asked earlier in the week about working in the same game as Santana, Danks focused more on his own goals.

"Honestly, I like our offense," said Danks when asked about a match-up with Santana. "If I keep us in the game, I like our chances to win.

"It's strictly start-by-start for me. I feel like if I take care of each start, I don't have to worry about down the line."

Danks threw a simulated game last Sunday in Arizona and threw on the side during Thursday's game. With Thursday's session in mind, the White Sox decided not to keep Danks waiting any longer to get out and pitch.

Keeping the rotation in order means Contreras will have one week in between starts, after working just one-plus innings during Monday's season opener, although the White Sox like to keep Contreras as close to a regular schedule as possible. Garland also will have an extra day of rest prior to Tuesday night's start, but this alignment was deemed best for the team overall after weighing all the mitigating factors.

"First of all, how's Buehrle going to be? And we don't want Danks sitting too long," Cooper said. "Danks is lined up. It's not the worst thing in the world to have another extra day for Contreras or Garland. It was more about our team and what we felt best at getting everyone untracked.

"John is set for Sunday. We are all ready to look at him. He's ready to go. Everything else will go back. We pushed everyone back and squeezed him in."

Although the White Sox remain highly optimistic concerning Buehrle's ability to bounce back, they could go with Masset if needed Wednesday. Vazquez also could return on three days rest, with Thursday's ensuing off day also giving Buehrle another extra day heading into Cleveland.

"It depends on what happens tomorrow," Cooper said. "If [Vazquez] goes out and does the job we expect, we won't bring him back on short rest."

Fans should keep their tickets and parking for tonight's postponed game until a decision has been announced regarding the re-scheduled game. Saturday's game is scheduled for 2:55 p.m. and Sunday's game will begin at 1:05 p.m. Tickets remain for both contests to conclude the opening six-game homestand.

Prior to Friday, the last time the White Sox had a game postponed due to cold temperatures was April 17, 2000 against Seattle. Since U.S. Cellular opened as the new Comiskey Park in 1991, there have been four games postponed due to cold temperatures.

At least one player on Thursday, though, had an idea of the harsh weather awaiting both teams this weekend. Jenks, who picked up the win in relief, was extolling the virtues of Vazquez and speaking of how the Twins would have to worry about the White Sox starter on Friday.

Jenks added one caveat with a smile before finishing his thought.

"If we play tomorrow, that is," said Jenks during a humorous postgame interview session. "Weather permitting."

"Everybody's getting an extra day," added Cooper of his starters. "The cold out and off day [last Tuesday] forced it."

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