Rogers shows Sox what they missed

No wonder Kenny Rogers got his feelings hurt when the White Sox offered him a mere $1 million guaranteed to be their fifth starter.

Almost two seasons later, he has reasserted himself as one of the top left-handed starters in the American League. It's hard to believe this is a guy who almost couldn't find a job with anyone in the spring of 2003.

How much better would the White Sox have been if general manager Ken Williams had been prescient enough to offer Rogers a multiyear contract back then?

This was a question worth considering as the Texas Rangers pounded the Sox 10-3 Tuesday night before a crowd of 20,004 at Ameriquest Field. Rogers, who helped Minnesota to a division title last season, worked seven strong innings to raise his record to 16-7, equaling his most victories since 1998.

"Kenny was Kenny," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Kenny's a pretty good pitcher. He keeps guys off-balance. He's a warrior. He gives you his best every day."

Rogers, 39, needs only two more victories for the most in his 16-year career. He's 29-15 with a 4.56 earned-run average the last two seasons.

A seven-run second inning off Jose Contreras (12-8) provided more than enough support for Rogers. The loss ended a four-game winning streak for the Sox, who dropped to one game above .500 and 8½ games behind Minnesota in the American League Central.

Things got so bad for the Sox that Guillen decided to use Jon Garland in relief for the first time since 2001. He came in to face five hitters in the fifth inning, retiring only one of them. He is expected to make his scheduled start Friday in Anaheim.

Contreras needed 68 pitches to work 12/3 innings—only 17 fewer than Rogers threw in his seven innings. Contreras threw 46 in the second inning, including 25 after he could have been in the dugout if third baseman Joe Crede had not failed to get an out on a Brian Jordan grounder.

He tried to force David Dellucci at second. His throw was late and Wilson Valdez, making his big-league debut, couldn't get off a throw to first. Before the inning was over, Contreras walked two men with the bases loaded (one when he wouldn't challenge Hank Blalock with a 3-2 fastball) and hit Alfonso Soriano in the back to force in another run.

"In the first inning I felt good," Contreras said, with third-base coach Joey Cora interpreting. "I had good command of my fastball. In the second inning, I couldn't control the fastball. I didn't have command of it. … I didn't expect an outing like this."