Unfortunately for Humber, his right elbow wasn't in agreement.
The right-hander, who threw Major League Baseball's 21st perfect game on April 21 in Seattle, was placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 17 with a right elbow flexor strain, joining fellow starter John Danks, who is sidelined by a left subscapularis strain. Humber, 29, has a 3-4 record with a 6.01 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings over 12 starts this season, but in the 10 trips to the mound since the perfect game, he went 2-4 record with a 7.47 ERA.
Humber said the elbow pain was more gradual, without pinpointing a start or time when the problem began. Manager Robin Ventura became aware of Humber's discomfort a couple of days ago and he didn't want Humber going out there with any reservations as to how he was feeling.
"You look at guys the way they talk about how they are feeling and physically with certain things," Ventura said. "He had something when he was throwing that didn't feel right. I don't like having guys go out there trying to fight their way through something if they are not 100 percent. It's more of just getting him to get back to 100 percent and letting him go back out and pitch."
"I always want to pitch through it. My preference would be to keep going," Humber said. "But at the same time, when you're limited and you're not able to pitch to your full capabilities, not only for me but for the team, [going to the DL is] the best thing. They thought it was best to go ahead and shut me down and get it right. I'm going to work as hard as I can and hopefully be back out there real soon."
Brian Bruney was called up from Triple-A Charlotte to take Humber's spot on the roster and will be used in long relief. Meanwhile, Dylan Axelrod, who rejoined the White Sox from Charlotte on Tuesday, gets the start Saturday evening against the Brewers. It will be Axelrod's second start this season and fifth of his career.
Axelrod will get two or three starts as a rotation substitute. But Ventura isn't viewing this as a potential audition for Axelrod, assuming general manager Ken Williams doesn't add another starting pitcher.
"Stuff like that can always happen," Ventura said. "But I would like to see Phil get back in there. When he comes off, he's going to get that shot."
"If I start at Yankee Stadium that would be a dream come true. That would be awesome," said Axelrod, who is line to start Thursday at Yankee Stadium. "I'm sure a little bit of butterflies will be flowing then, but I'm just looking forward to everything."
With an extremely high threshold for pain, Humber basically operates under the premise that he can pitch through an injury if nothing is broken. But the elbow strain was affecting his slider and both breaking balls, so the best move was to make Humber inactive.
"That's something I was kind of having to battle, but I still felt like I could go out there and compete," said Humber, who played catch Friday and hopes to soon throw some sidelines before embarking on a rehab start or two. "But at the same time, it's tough when you're not 100 percent to go out there and do what's best for the team. When I come back, I fully expect to pitch good ballgames and give our team a chance to win."