GLENDALE, Ariz. (MCT) — As the Chicago White Sox embark on life without manager Ozzie Guillen during their first workout for pitchers and catchers, a lingering question will be how the team copes without at least 10 victories, 30 starts and 200 innings for 11 consecutive seasons from Mark Buehrle.
“People are going to have to step up,” Philip Humber said Wednesday at Camelback Ranch, where Robin Ventura will be the most noticeable change after Guillen’s eight eventful seasons as the Sox’s manager.
Although the rotation is believed to be the most stable area of the Sox’s projected 25-man roster, Ventura spoke of competition throughout the spring training roster that includes an alignment of Jake Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Humber and Chris Sale, who will make the transformation from reliever.
“Even though guys either move teams or retire, the game keeps moving forward,” Ventura said. “The games are still around after guys leave. So for them, that’s part of the motivation. Guys are competitive and have pride, and they’ve been hearing enough they don’t have it.”
When the Sox won their last division title in 2008, Floyd won a season-high 17 games and Danks posted a career-low 3.32 ERA. That more than made up for the trade of Jon Garland and a disappointing season by Javier Vazquez.
But there also was Buehrle, who led the staff with 2182/3 innings and won 15 games in 2008.
“You can have somebody come in and fill a different void that’s there,” Ventura said. “You don’t know who that’s going to be right now, but I don’t necessarily think I can point at guys and say, ‘You’re going to be the new Mark Buehrle.’ It doesn’t work that way.”
What must work for the Sox is improvement from all five starters, regardless of who is named the Opening Day starter. Peavy, 30, will have the benefit of being 19 months’ removed from surgery to repair a detached latissimus dorsi muscle near his right shoulder that limited him to 1112/3 innings last season.
But he hasn’t been injury-free since 2007, when he won the Cy Young Award with the Padres.
An 0-8 start and subsequent right oblique strain stunted Danks’ development last season, but the Sox hope the left-hander can regain his 2010 form when he posted 15 wins and 213 innings — both career highs.
Floyd hasn’t won more than 12 games or pitched more than 1932/3 innings in any season since 2008. Meanwhile, Humber, 29, is determined to show his career-high 163 innings and respectable 3.75 ERA weren’t flukes last season.
“I don’t take anything for granted,” Humber said. “You have to prove yourself every day. I showed them last year I’m capable of being a good major league starter. That’s just one year, and that’s not going to help anything this year.”