CHICAGO -- For a brief period on Wednesday morning, manager Robin Ventura and his staff tried to put together a starting lineup to face the Royals in their series finale loss without Alejandro De Aza, Kevin Youkilis, Paul Konerko and Alex Rios.
"It was creative," said Ventura with a smile. "It was a fun morning."
Ventura never had to make public that lineup card, as Youkilis and De Aza came to U.S. Cellular Field ready for action. Youkilis was scratched from Tuesday's contest with a sore right knee, while De Aza missed the first two games of the series with back stiffness.
But Rios and Konerko were sidelined, giving them two days of inactivity thanks to Thursday's scheduled off-day. Ventura announced postgame on Wednesday that Konerko sustained a mild concussion in the seventh inning of Tuesday's loss, when Jarrod Dyson's left elbow connected with the right side of Konerko's head as Dyson beat out an infield hit. Rios was absent due to back stiffness.
"This has been going on for a few days, but [Tuesday], it got stiffer," Rios said. "I don't think it's something that's going to keep me out of that lineup for more than a day or so. I'll be fine."
Taking a day off would seem to be an especially tough proposition for Rios, who is hitting .346 with 17 homers, 52 RBS and 57 runs scored in his last 66 games. Rios is hitting .318 with 18 homers, 67 RBIs and 68 runs scored overall in this bounce-back season.
"I've been hitting the ball hard consistently and I've been feeling pretty good," Rios said. "This is one of the highest points of my career."
The White Sox also have to be smart when looking at the remainder of the season's big picture. Giving a couple of days now to players with nagging injuries such as Rios, Youkilis and De Aza might help them stay fresh when the pressure truly is on during the September playoff drive.
"You want everyone to play well in September," Ventura said. "We want to win every game, but again we're looking at the long haul of this and it's difficult. That's why you have a 25-man roster. You've got to use everybody. We've got guys at ages where we need to give them a break."
"Just take a day and [Thursday] we have a day off, so that will be two days," Rios said. "Then, I'm going to come back better and I don't have to take any other days off."