As recently as last month Jose Contreras was a viable trade candidate. Now, his decline is such that all the White Sox can do is try to resurrect a semblance of his former self.
That's the primary goal after Contreras was tagged for a season-high 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings and blew two leads Wednesday night as Detroit pounded its way to a 13-9 victory.
"You give him every chance to come up on top, and he couldn't," manager Ozzie Guillen said after Contreras lost his sixth straight start. "I know he's not hurt."
Contreras' debacle, which came in front of several major-league scouts, probably ended any chance the Sox had to trade him and the $24 million remaining on his contract through 2009 before Tuesday's 3 p.m. trading deadline.
Since beating Florida on June 8, Contreras (5-13) has a 9.41 ERA over six starts. Over his last 11 starts, his ERA is 8.27. This was his shortest outing since June 12, when he lasted 3 1/3 innings while giving up seven runs on seven hits in a loss at Philadelphia.
"It was the most confident I felt coming out of the bullpen all year," Contreras said. "I thought I was going to have a good outing. I just left a couple of pitches high and nothing was working. I fell behind on the count a few times."
In seven starts against American League Central opponents, Contreras has a 7.98 ERA, with his only victory against Minnesota on a five-hit shutout on May 10. That performance was reminiscent of his 17-game winning streak that ended in the first half of 2006.
Wednesday's loss was very disappointing because the Sox staked him to leads of 5-2 and 7-5 and hit four home runs off veteran left-hander Kenny Rogers, including Jermaine Dye's three-run shot in the first.
"You feel you didn't do your part," Contreras said. "That's the most frustrating thing."
Ryan Raburn, starting in place of the injured Gary Sheffield, drove in seven runs, one shy of Jim Northrup's club record. Raburn, who was recalled from Triple-A Toledo on July 6, hit two homers off Contreras.
"His approach to hitting looks good to me," Dye said. "He's no pushover, for sure."
Despite Contreras' rocky outing, the Sox came within a run of getting him off the hook. Tadahito Iguchi's two-run double closed the deficit to 10-9 in the sixth with the middle of the order coming up against former Sox pitcher Jason Grilli.
But Jim Thome struck out, Iguchi was caught in a rundown after Paul Konerko grounded back to the mound and Dye flied to right.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times