Time for Planwhat is it nowM? N?
The search for the elusive fifth starterwhich has lasted for over a season nowcontinues for the White Sox after Neal Cotts gave up four runs, five hits and two home runs in 21/3 innings Saturday in a 9-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
The loss snapped the Sox's four-game winning streak and dropped them a game behind the Twins in the Central Division with the final game of the four-game series here Sunday afternoon.
Cotts is already the third pitcher the Sox have tried in the fifth starter role this season, and he didn't fare much better than his two predecessorsDan Wright and Felix Diaz.
Sox manager Ozzie Guillen turned to Cotts reluctantly.
"It's my fault," Guillen said. "We tried something and it didn't work."
Cotts' first start of the season was reminiscent of his last onelast August in New York. But instead of walks, Cotts was hit.
He allowed two singles and threw a wild pitch among his first nine pitches and was trailing 3-0 after 16 pitches on a run-scoring groundout from Jacque Jones and a two-run homer from Matthew LeCroy on an 0-2 pitch.
"I hung a couple pitches and they hit them out," Cotts said.
After Joe Crede doubled in Jose Valentin in the Sox second, Justin Morneau led off the bottom of the frame with a home run to make it 4-1.
Guillen pulled Cotts with one out in the third inning after 54 pitches.
"I felt comfortable and I felt strong," Cotts said.
Momentum in baseball lasts as long as the next day's starting pitcher, and the troubles the Sox are having with the fifth spot prevents them from ever putting together a long winning streak.
Last season, Wright, Josh Stewart, Mike Porzio and Cotts combined to go 3-12 in the fifth spot.
When Wright had a strong spring training, the Sox thought the problem was solved. But Wright lost all four of his starts before being sent to Triple A, where his career may now be in jeopardy with shoulder and elbow problems.
After Saturday, the Sox have won just one game in seven starts by their fifth starter this seasonthe second game of a doubleheader with Baltimore on May 13, when Diaz made his major-league debut and left with a no-decision.
"The fifth spot hasn't been good the last couple years," Guillen said. "[Cotts] was the best we had."
The spot will come up again next weekend at home against Anaheim, and Guillen said he's not sure what the Sox will do.
Cotts said if they want him to start again, he'd be all for it, but Guillen hinted that he wants Cotts back in the bullpen full-time.
Unless general manager Ken Williams pulls off a trade for another starting pitcher this week, the options in the minors appear to be Jason Grilli, Jon Rauch or Arnie Munoz in Double-A Birmingham.
While Guillen was running one reliever after another out to the mound Saturday, Brad Radke steadied a Minnesota ship that was rocked by the Sox in the first two games of the series.
The Sox scored 18 runs in the first two games and 33 in their last three games before being shut down Saturday.
Radke went seven innings and gave up six hitsfive of which were singles.
The only threat the Sox had after their run-scoring second was in the fourth. Carlos Lee and Valentin hit one-out singles, but Paul Konerko struck out and Crede ended the inning with a flyout to center.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times