ARLINGTON -- With six White Sox players currently on the disabled list, including four who were penciled in for major 2013 roles, Robin Ventura's crew could be considered in survival mode until June when some of these players begin to return.
Jake Peavy, one of April's top performers for the South Siders, doesn't view the team's situation in such a dire manner. The right-hander simply believes the White Sox have to play better baseball to contend, regardless of health concerns.
"It's not the guys we lost are the reason we are not playing good fundamental baseball on any side of the ball. And it's not on the coaching staff," said Peavy prior to Wednesday's contest. "They are doing every bit of what they did last year and they are pulling their weight. It comes down to every man in this clubhouse looking himself in the mirror and asking what they can do more to help this ballclub.
"Every one of us can look back on this last month and realize that we can give a little bit more than we got and play a little bit better than we played. That's what it's going to take if we are going to climb out of this thing and just shore up all three facets of the game. They need to be a little bit better than they have been.
"I don't think anyone in here will tell you any different than that," Peavy said. "Baseball is contagious as well. When you find little ways to lose every night, that kind of gets contagious. We just have to get on a roll. A few nights in a row we get a big hit or get a big pitch thrown to get us out of a jam, that stuff gets contagious and you go on a run and get back around .500."
Entering Wednesday's second game of this eight-game road trip, the White Sox bullpen had an 0-4 record with a 7.42 ERA over its last eight games. The relievers produced a 1.63 ERA in the first 17.
Two errors in Tuesday's loss gave the White Sox 18, tied with Oakland for the second-most in the American League, and their .980 fielding percentage is tied for last in the AL. Their offense ranks last in batting average, on-base percentage, walks and average with runners in scoring position.
Certainly losing players such as Gordon Beckham, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Dayan Viciedo make a difference in these numbers. But Peavy doesn't want those injuries to become a crutch for a team without much room for error.
"You can't win it in April, but you can certainly dig yourself a hole that's hard to climb out of and we are trying to avoid that at any cost," Peavy said. "We have to understand our identity as a team. We show up every night expecting to win, but we can't just because we show up to the ballpark thinking we are going to win. We have to flat out outwork and out-want the other side. Outplay them.
"That's something we did last year that just hasn't happened. Pitching-wise, hitting-wise and defensively certainly we have to do better than we've been. If we do that, we are going to be fine and compete with anybody in the division just as we did last year.
"But it has got to happen here shortly or we are going to look at ourselves from the bottom [of the division]," said Peavy, who will pitch Thursday's finale against the Rangers. "Then you got to play over and above to get back to where you need to be. We understand there's a sense of urgency that we need to kick ourselves in the rear end a little bit and it's time to go."
Veal out, Omogrosso up in bullpen shakeup
ARLINGTON -- Donnie Veal was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte prior to Wednesday's game against the Rangers, with Brian Omogrosso recalled. Veal's demotion means the White Sox have one left-hander in Matt Thornton and six right-handers in their bullpen, which also means they will go without that one-batter specialist.
According to pitching coach Don Cooper, Omogrosso and Deunte Heath will handle the "loose innings," when the White Sox stand significantly ahead or behind.
"The rest of the bullpen, it will be their innings," Cooper said.
"Now you can kind of lengthen some stuff out," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his relievers. "Give them opportunities."
Matt Lindstrom walked Geovany Soto with one out in the sixth of Texas' win Tuesday, with the game deadlocked at 4. In the new arrangement, Lindstrom would have stayed in the game to face left-handed-hitting Mitch Moreland, but the White Sox believe this scenario was the perfect one to use the left-handed-throwing Veal.
It resulted in a run-scoring double by Moreland and the fifth time this year that Veal has faced just one batter in an outing and not retired him.
"We gave him every shot," said Cooper of Veal, who had a stellar 1.38 ERA in 24 games last season, but couldn't throw his curveball for strikes. "Donnie Veal is in a pass-or-fail role. It's a small thing. And if you aren't getting that lefty, it's like a chain out there and somebody else has to do the work.
"If you are not getting the lefty or walking the lefty or giving up hits, we just don't have the luxury of giving you the time to try to work your way through it because it becomes more work for other guys. So, we made that move."
Omogrosso posted a 2.57 ERA over 17 relief outings for the White Sox last season. He had a 6.52 ERA with Charlotte in '13 but posted a 2.70 ERA over his last five games thanks to some extra work put in with Knights pitching coach Richard Dotson.
"I just got a little messed up," said Omogrosso, who limited right-handed hitters to a .224 average last season with the White Sox. "I started throwing the ball uphill as opposed to downhill a little bit and had to tweak a few little things.
"I'm one of them guys that, I struggle with giving up the single number. When things are going bad, I'm a crooked number kind of guy which means I've got to stay on pace."
Jones trying to keep energy under control
ARLINGTON -- Nate Jones' last two relief outings (five earned runs over two innings) raised his April ERA from 2.79 to 6.17. That rough patch came after Jones made five straight scoreless appearances over a two-week period.
While Jones said that he wasn't executing pitches in allowing four runs over two-thirds of an inning on Tuesday, he points to controlling energy on the mound as the biggest point of concern.
"I think it's all about mainly staying back," Jones said. "I get too anxious out there and very excited and [I'm] learning to control that geek and staying back with my mechanics."
White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper believes the hard-throwing rookie who put up a 2.39 ERA over 65 games in 2012 hasn't suddenly lost his stuff in 2013.
"It's a matter of him getting ahead and not trying to do too much," Cooper said. "Every time he throws a pitch, it's a two-strike put-away pitch.
"He doesn't have to make the breaking ball any nastier than it is. The fastball any harder. He just has to locate it better. That's what he hasn't been doing on a consistent basis as of yet. I have confidence it will happen."
Defensive mistakes a mystery for White Sox
ARLINGTON -- The White Sox committed their 17th and 18th errors during Tuesday's 10-6 loss to the Rangers. They did not commit error No. 18 last season until their 36th game, which becomes a confounding statistic for a team that puts such a high priority on strong fundamentals.
"It's still important and it's going to be kept at the top of the important list and we'll focus on it because you can't win without good defense," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "That is something that will always be there.
"You always scratch your head in this game. Things you think will be there, kind of continue the same way as last year, but every year is different and every guy you use changes the dynamic of it."