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Sox shift rotation; Contreras sent down

Sox shift rotation; Contreras sent down

CLEVELAND -- Even with his first start of 2009 set to take place on Tuesday night at Progressive Field, Clayton Richard still wasn't 100 percent sure when he was taking the mound.

"I'll be ready tonight," said Richard with a laugh.

Richard, 25, originally was set to take Wednesday's rotation slot for Jose Contreras, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte following Sunday's loss to Texas.

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The White Sox instead opted to start Richard on Tuesday night, with Mark Buehrle and his 5-0 record getting an extra day of rest. That change means Wednesday's matchup between Buehrle and Cliff Lee could result in one of the fastest-worked games of the season.

"Quite simply, we had a chance to give Buehrle an extra day with an off-day the next one, so why not?" White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "That's the plan we've always had set up for him, and it continues. It won't amount to him missing starts late or anything like that."

"Every time we get a spot for [an extra day's rest for] Buehrle, we do it," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.

In order for Contreras to be optioned, he had to first clear waivers and then agree to the move, because he has at least five years of Major League service. But it was Contreras who approached Guillen about the Minor League stint on the heels of his 0-5 start to the 2009 campaign, and general manager Ken Williams and assistant general manager Rick Hahn helped facilitate the move.

It was a decision made by Contreras that impressed Guillen, who appreciated the veteran right-hander putting the team first above personal pride.

"I tip my hat to Jose. He could be home right now collecting the White Sox money," Guillen said. "The first thing out of his mouth was that, 'In the bullpen, I'm not going to pitch. I need to pitch to get ready for you guys.'

"Not too many players say, 'Listen, I need to do this to help you guys.' Other guys would say, 'I don't care. I make my money. I'll be home. I'll be in the bullpen and pitch once a month.' He worries about this ballclub and cares about this ballclub. He's in my top three most respected players I've ever had."

With Richard moving into the rotation, the White Sox purchased the contract of Jimmy Gobble from Charlotte prior to Monday's contest. Guillen wanted another left-hander to join Matt Thornton in relief.

Gobble, 27, was 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 11 appearances at Charlotte, after signing as a free agent on April 6.

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

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