ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Jon Garland needed 111 pitches to get through six innings Wednesday against Texas. And every time his team scored, Garland gave at least one run back in the bottom of the inning. Still, by the time Garland turned a 4-3 lead over to his bullpen, he had completed his scheduled turn having allowed three runs in six innings. It was the minimum definition of a "quality start," despite the fact the Rangers came back to tie in the seventh inning and win, 5-4, in the 11th. "I felt real good," Garland said Thursday, when asked about his start. "For the most part, I was happy with every pitch I threw up there. And, most importantly, I put the team in a chance to win the ballgame."
Again, technically correct. But such easy satisfaction from a starting pitcher who is 1-4 with a 7.55 ERA over his last nine starts seemed to represent the laissez faire attitude against which Sox manager Ozzie Guillen railed in his profanity-laced tirade late Wednesday night. Guillen said the flagging performance of the Sox was killing him, his family, his coaching staff, owner Jerry Reinsdorf and the team's fans. He added bitterly, "I just hope it's killing [the players] the same way [as] we feel. I hope somebody out there [in the clubhouse] cares the way we care." Guillen never complained about specific players by name, but neither did he back off from his blanket indictment of the entire team on Thursday. Garland said he couldn't guess which players Guillen was referring to, but said his competitive nature was doing just fine. "I know I'm going out and giving 100 percent every time I step on that mound," Garland said. "But I don't know how other guys feel. ... I'm definitely going to try and finish as strong as possible, go out and compete, and win as many as I can in the last month." Will he stay or will he go now? After two consecutive seasons with 18 wins, Garland limps into September with an 8-10 record and 4.89 ERA after 27 starts. The Sox are 3-6 in his last nine starts, and opponents are hitting .341 against him in that span. Those disappointing numbers, along with the fact he will be entering the final year of his three-year, $29 million contract in 2008, have kept Garland's name prominent in trade rumors. His return next spring is far from assured, but Garland said he is not letting his uncertain future affect his season. "No, because every year I've been with this team, I've been rumored to be traded in the offseason, and sometimes rumored to be traded in-season," he said. "There's nothing I can do about it. I can't say yes, I can't say no, I can't say where, if they're going to [trade me]. It doesn't even matter to me. "If they're going to want me, they'll want me. If they don't, they don't. That's not my decision. All I can do is go out there and compete every five days. I'm not going to worry about it. If it's out of my hands and there's nothing I can do, then why let it bother me?" But if the choice was Garland's, would he want to stay put? "I would definitely like to [stay]," he said. "This is the place I've been my whole Major League career. I went to the World Series and won it with this team. I have friends on this team. I love the city of Chicago. Everything surrounding it, I love. But that's definitely not up to me." Fields feeling his way: Rookie Josh Fields started his fifth consecutive game in left field, as the Sox experiment with converting him from a third baseman. But for the second day in a row, pregame thunderstorms prevented him from getting any early work taking fly balls in the field under the tutelage of coach Harold Baines. "It's going to be tough, but I'm glad to have the opportunity to go out and do it," Fields said of the transition. "I guess I feel good that the White Sox feel confident enough in my mental strength that I can go out there and possibly fail while I learn. Going out there without much practice, right in the middle of the season, has been tough." The Sox want to see Fields in left as often as possible during the season's final month to assess whether he can be a viable candidate for the position in 2008. With numbers through his first 76 games this year that project to 36 homers and 109 RBIs over a full season, Fields' bat has earned a lineup spot. It just might not be at third base if Joe Crede returns from back surgery or another infielder is acquired. "The hardest thing is, if you do make a mistake out there, to drop it and move on to your next at-bat," Fields said. "You're not going to be a Gold Glove winner right away, as much as you'd like to be. You just try to learn each game and not make the same mistake twice." Up next: Lefty Mark Buehrle (9-9, 3.50 ERA) is scheduled to face Cleveland righty Fausto Carmona (14-8, 3.16 ERA) in Friday's opener of a three-game series at Jacobs Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT.
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.