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Carrasco biding time for rotation bid

Carrasco biding time for rotation bid

CHICAGO -- When D.J. Carrasco reports to Spring Training with the White Sox sometime in mid-February, 2010, the right-hander is hoping for a chance to compete for the final spot in the team's starting rotation.

Carrasco thought there might be an early opportunity to make his case for that job on Monday, as Ozzie Guillen announced before Saturday's 13-3 victory over the Royals that Carrasco would be replacing Gavin Floyd and his sore left hip for this spot start. But there was Carrasco, pitching two scoreless innings of relief on Saturday, helping protect Jake Peavy's first American League win in his first American League start.

Despite Carrasco throwing only 20 pitches, Guillen said after the game that he will not start against the Twins. That job now will now fall to one of two rookies: Daniel Hudson or Carlos Torres.

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"I told the coaches, 'I don't care about Monday if we don't win today,'" said Guillen as to why he turned to Carrasco to pitch the seventh and eighth innings with a four-run lead.

Once again, Carrasco is a victim of his own success. While becoming a starter basically has been Carrasco's focus since signing with the White Sox, the right-hander simply has proven to be too valuable in his myriad relief roles.

One day, Carrasco can pick up a struggling starter who only lasts three or four innings by working three or four innings of long relief. The next time out, Carrasco can produce an outing like Saturday's, and he has been known to excel as a late-inning setup man in limited chances for the South Siders.

The variety or responsibilities is fine with Carrasco, who is arbitration eligible going into next season. It can get a bit taxing over the course of a 162-game season.

"In a perfect world, you would rather know what's going to happen," said Carrasco, who lowered his ERA to 3.58 over 93 innings. "But that's part of being in the bullpen, you never know. I thrive on that. It keeps you on your toes, but it's a long season and mentally you get drained.

"It has been more mentally taxing. The innings have gotten up there, but physically I'm fine. I'm just grateful for being able to stay healthy and the stuff I've accomplished."

There's no question hanging over Sunday's White Sox starter, as Freddy Garcia takes the mound on the heels of five straight quality starts. Sunday's competition will be a challenge for Garcia, who is 0-6 with an 8.51 ERA in his past seven games against the Royals.

But if Garcia struggles, there's a good chance Carrasco will be warming up and getting ready to take the mound. Such is the life of a talented reliever, with a starter's mentality at heart.

"I would like to have a chance to compete for the fifth-starting spot [in 2010]," Carrasco said. "If that doesn't work out, I don't know what the moves [by GM Kenny Williams] will be as far as the bullpen. I would like to get responsibilities as far as a chance to set up, if that's up. If not, whatever they ask of me, that's what I'm here to do."

Pitching matchup
CWS: RHP Freddy Garcia (2-2, 4.41 ERA)
Make it five straight quality starts for Garcia as he returned to his old stomping grounds on Tuesday at Safeco Field and helped defeat the Mariners. He gave up three runs on seven hits over six innings, including a home run to Ken Griffey Jr., while striking out one and walking one. The only rough start for Garcia out of his six since returning to the White Sox came in his debut on Aug. 18, at home against the Royals. He allowed five runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings in that one. Garcia has a chance for redemption Sunday, carrying a career 8-12 record and 6.26 ERA against the Royals into the series finale.

KC: RHP Robinson Tejeda (3-1, 3.09 ERA)
Tejeda made his third straight successful start on Tuesday night, although he lasted just five innings against the Tigers. He held them to one run but ran up 102 pitches in the process and had to depart with the Royals ahead, 8-1 (the final was 11-1). Tejeda extended his personal scoreless streak to 23 innings before giving up a run in the fifth inning. A blister on his pitching hand contributed to a lack of control with his changeup, and he had to lean on mostly fastballs. Tejeda doubts the blister will affect this start. In his three starts since coming out of the bullpen, he's 2-0 with a 0.55 ERA.

Tidbits
Guillen talked Saturday about possibly moving Mark Buehrle back in the 2010 rotation to the third or fourth slot, behind Jake Peavy and either one or both of the young starters in John Danks and Floyd. The move, in Guillen's estimation, would slightly lessen the load on a hurler who has thrown 200 innings in nine straight seasons. "Buehrle every year throws 230 innings," Guillen said. "I talked to [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] about our plans for the future, and we might move him back. [He won't] be the first guy any more, [he could] be the third or fourth. Give him time to recover and be consistent. Every time Buehrle goes out there, he gives us a chance to win." ... Tyler Flowers picked up his first Major League hit with an eighth-inning single on Saturday. "It's just great to get on base for these guys," Flowers said. "I was a little disappointed with a couple of at-bats before that. I missed a couple pitches and didn't get a bunt down. But it turned out to be an OK day. There are hopefully many, many more to go." ... Alex Rios' fourth-inning single marked his first RBI since Aug. 28 at Yankee Stadium. He had at least two hits for the third time in September but also for the second time in his past three starts. ... A closing thought from Peavy on the remainder of the 2009 regular season: "Hopefully we can keep this going and reel off 13 straight at the end of the season to have some kind of chance," Peavy said. "If not, I certainly want to make a few more starts and get ready for 2010."

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On the Internet
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•  Official game notes

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Up next
• Monday: White Sox (TBA) vs. Twins (Nick Blackburn, 10-11, 4.34), 7:11 p.m. CT
• Tuesday: White Sox (John Danks, 12-9, 3.59) vs. Twins (TBD), 7:11 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: White Sox (Mark Buehrle, 12-9, 3.84) vs. Twins (Brian Duensing, 4-1, 3.22), 7:11 p.m. CT

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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