Floyd still a puzzle for White Sox

Chicago White SoxTennisGavin FloydJose ContrerasChicago CubsJohn DanksJerry Owens

And now again comes the question of what the White Sox should do with Gavin Floyd.

Keep him in the starting rotation?

Put him in the bullpen?

Send him back to the minor leagues?

The answer will not be easy after Saturday night's 7-6 loss to the Mariners.

Floyd gave up all the runs in just four innings, long before Josh Fields' ninth-inning grand slam almost took him off the hook.

The problem was compounded when Jose Contreras, whose spot Floyd took, had his second strong outing out of the bullpen, going the final five innings and again returning to 94 m.p.h. on the radar gun.

"We don't know what we're going to do," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Right now it's on hold. For what Jose did for this organization in the past ... a lot of people have struggled with the White Sox, and we gave them more opportunities."

Saturday's start was a major disappointment for the Sox because Floyd had shut out the Tigers for six innings in his previous start last Sunday.

But by the time he faced his third hitter Saturday, he had allowed more walks than he had last time. And by the time he faced his fifth hitter, he had allowed more runs.

By the time he left after four innings, he had given up seven hits, seven runs and two homers, not to mention hitting a batter.

"It's confusing and frustrating," Guillen said. "He had two bad starts, then he pitched the way he should and then he goes back and doesn't perform the way we expected. You just keep waiting for good things to happen."

Although he was sharp in the second and third innings, the 24-year-old Floyd was smoked for a three-run homer by Raul Ibanez in the first and a grand slam by Yuniesky Betancourt in the fourth.

Contreras relieved and was poked for three hits but no runs in the fifth. He left two more on in the sixth but settled down after that, allowing only one baserunner in his final three innings.

That was a ninth-inning single with one out, but he struck out Adrian Beltre and got Richie Sexson to ground out.

Contreras most likely has pitched out of the bullpen for the last time in the foreseeable future because he must get ready for his next start in Seattle. If Floyd stays in the rotation and John Danks gets one more start before taking a rest, the Sox will be short in the bullpen.

"We put [Contreras] in the bullpen to refresh his mind and body, and he responded well," Guillen said. "His last two outings have been very good."

Said Contreras: "I've felt good the past couple of times in the bullpen. It's done me good for my head. Maybe I needed that."

As for the Sox's offense, it mostly belonged to Fields, who hit two homers the night before.

He drove in the Sox's second run in the fifth inning with a single, and he deposited the first pitch from All-Star closer J.J. Putz into the center-field bleachers 409 feet away to cut it to 7-6 in the ninth.

Scott Podsednik, still around despite rumors he might be headed for the Cubs, singled and stole second in the third inning. After Danny Richar walked, Jerry Owens singled and Podsednik streaked home.

Fields, a rookie who hit his first major-league grand slam, is on pace to hit 33 homers and drive in 107 runs over a full season.

"The more playing time he gets, he should get better," Guillen said. "We never had any doubts that this kid can hit in the big leagues."

The doubt now lies with Floyd.

dvandyck@tribune.com

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