Manager Ozzie Guillen announced before the 5-3 loss that designated hitter Jim Thome would be sidelined for the final two games of the series against the Twins at the Metrodome with back soreness, aside from a possible pinch-hitting appearance. Guillen followed up that comment with the official move of Clayton Richard back to the bullpen.
"I cannot compete in the American League with just one lefty," said Guillen, who actually was without a lefty reliever on Monday night, as Matt Thornton returned home to Chicago to be with his wife, Emily, for the birth of their daughter, Avery.
"It was a tough decision," said Guillen, regarding Richard's move. "I want this kid, we want this kid, I shouldn't say just I, we want to keep him on a roll, but in the meanwhile, we have [Bartolo] Colon and [Jose] Contreras throwing the ball pretty good and I don't think Colon or Contreras can pitch out of the bullpen."
Richard made this particular decision difficult by allowing just two runs over 16 innings and working eight innings in each of his last two starts against the Rays and the Tigers, respectively. Guillen could have gone to a six-man rotation for one turn through the starters, with Richard getting the nod this weekend at home against the Yankees, and Buehrle then receiving a couple extra days off when including this Monday's off-day.
But after Tuesday's loss, Guillen's decision was tweaked just a bit. Colon was scratched from Wednesday's start against the Twins due to right elbow soreness, with Contreras moving up to take his spot in the rotation. Both right-handers worked in Friday's doubleheader loss to the Tigers, so Contreras will be working on normal rest.
Colon will be reevaluated on Wednesday. If he's unable to go, Guillen could move Richard back into the rotation or the White Sox could turn to Minor League right-hander Carlos Torres and place Colon on the disabled list and keep Richard in relief after 14 straight starts.
"Like I say, it's something you don't like to do, but we have to," Guillen said. "We don't have anything else better than him."
As for Thome, Guillen pointed out that his balky back could be ready for Wednesday's series finale. But with left-hander Francisco Liriano pitching, Guillen intended to keep Thome inactive until Thursday's series opener at home against the Yankees.
"Right now, he's on the shelf," said Guillen, regarding Thome. "I don't see him playing all the way until Chicago."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.