White Sox sit Thome against lefty Wolf

White Sox sit Thome against lefty

CHICAGO -- The White Sox couldn't wait to get designated hitter Jim Thome back into their starting lineup after playing without him during an eight-game Interleague road trip to National League ballparks in Milwaukee, Cincinnati and the North Side of Chicago.

But after one start against the Dodgers on Tuesday night, the left-handed-hitting Thome was back on the bench Wednesday with southpaw Randy Wolf on the mound for Los Angeles.

Manager Ozzie Guillen might be sacrificing one game for his prolific slugger in order to have him ready for four straight contests against right-handed starters, including Thursday's afternoon affair.

"He's not swinging the bat well right now. I'm going to give him another day to start swinging the bat better," Guillen said. "Tomorrow we have a day game. I try to pick spots.

"It's not easy when you don't play that much, then all of the sudden, you play. Your body's going to be sore. But the main thing is tomorrow is a day game and that's why I made that decision."

Guillen's assertion regarding Thome's recent struggles stands as somewhat accurate. Thome is hitless in his past nine at-bats, although five of them came as a pinch-hitter during the road trip. In Tuesday's 5-2 loss, Thome finished 0-for-4 with a swinging strikeout against closer Jonathan Broxton to end the game.

Prior to this recent stretch of inactivity, though, Thome had three home runs, five hits and seven RBIs over his previous four starts. With Wolf on the mound, Guillen moved first baseman Paul Konerko into the designated hitter's role and found some much-needed at-bats for Josh Fields.

Since June 8, Fields has made one start and has 12 total plate appearances. The promotion of Gordon Beckham originally brought great consternation for Fields, only because he was losing his everyday job at third base.

For the remainder of the season or as long as he's with the White Sox this year, though, Fields has made peace with his current role as a utility player.

"I kind of think it's the attitude that this is what it is until something happens," Fields said. "My wife [Ashleigh] has helped me out a whole lot dealing with it. If I was dealing with it on my own, I probably would have done something dumb by now. Having her there to talk to has been really good.

"There are certain things that are just out of your control sometimes. Obviously, my play didn't help a lot. But there are only certain things you can do. They want to do what's best for the team.

"Right now, it's not weird anymore at all," Fields said. "It's still one when you are competitor, and you know what you can do, you are champing at the bit to get another opportunity to prove yourself."

Thome figures to play throughout the weekend against the Cubs, meaning Fields will be back waiting in reserve. It's a position he accepts in the present but still has visions of future full-time work in 2010 and beyond.

"Absolutely," said Fields of having the desire to start again as soon as possible or at least by next season. "If someone else that was in my situation was willing to say, 'I'm excited about being a utility player' ... a lot of utility players who have made a job of it, or a good career at it, they even work toward getting a starting job for the whole season."

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