SURPRISE, Ariz. -- White Sox right-hander Philip Humber won't get to pitch in front of his hometown faithful during the season-opening series next weekend in Arlington, Texas.
But the native of Tyler, Texas, at least gets a start during Wednesday afternoon's exhibition game in Houston, in the final tuneup for both the right-hander and the White Sox.
"I'm always glad to spend time in Texas and get to see a lot of family and friends," said Humber, who was a member of the 2003 Rice University national championship team. "We get to spend about a week there, so that's cool.
"My grandfather and my aunt are going to make that [Houston] trip and some more are coming up to Arlington. It's always fun for me to come back home. Sometimes they enjoy it more than I do: The big leagues, it's exciting. So it's a big deal."
Humber, 29, took another step toward his first season starting as a member of the five-man rotation by throwing 6 2/3 innings and 106 pitches against Reds Triple-A Minor Leaguers at Camelback Ranch on Friday morning. The right-hander struck out five, walked one and gave up four earned runs.
With his velocity up and his slider improved, Humber prepares for his 2012 debut on April 10 in Cleveland with the confidence of having better stuff. But even with last year's breakout effort on the resume, where Humber was good enough for a first-half period to stand as one reason for the White Sox temporarily moving to a six-man rotation, he won't get complacent.
"You have to prove yourself every time you take the mound because we have talented guys who'd like to take your spot," Humber said. "So you pitch like it's your last game, like you have nothing to lose. Attack the mitt and have fun with it.
"Just continue to improve. But the main thing is being able to hit the glove over and over again. Anybody would give you the same answer, but I have to get more consistent and try not to do more physically but more mentally."