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Contreras out for season, White Sox fall out of 1st
Will this be remembered as Black Saturday, the day the bottom fell out for the White Sox?
In only one gloomy evening, the White Sox lost pitcher Jose Contreras, their postseason ace in 2005, for the season and again lost their grip on first place in the American League Central as they made a flurry of roster moves.
"We don't deserve to be in first place," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "The guys in first have played better than us the last couple of weeks.
"But we will fight. Now we'll see what they are [made of]."
Coupled with the Twins' victory in Kansas City, the White Sox's 6-2 loss to the Red Sox Saturday night dropped them into second place for the second time this month.
And in the second inning, Contreras suffered a ruptured left Achilles' tendon while covering first base that, at 36, could threaten his career.
"Those kinds of injuries, I don't know how you can come back," Guillen said. "The only thing I hope is that he can pitch again."
Making up for his loss will be a challenge.
"Somebody will have to step up and take his place," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "The worst part is that it was very encouraging the way he was throwing. He was somebody we were going to count on down the stretch."
After the double setback earlier in the evening, the White Sox made several roster moves.
They acquired left-handed reliever Horacio Ramirez from Kansas City for Class A outfielder Paulo Orlando. Ramirez is 1-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 15 games.
Plus, they optioned third baseman Josh Fields back to Charlotte and will option Saturday's loser Boone Logan on Sunday.
They announced no replacements for either, debating into the night whether to bring up two pitchers or one pitcher and an infielder.
Logan changed a 1-1 tie to a 5-1 deficit in the seventh inning and left to loud boos from the sellout crowd of 39,243 at U.S. Cellular Field.
"This is a pennant race. I want men on the field," Guillen said. "I kept telling [GM] Kenny [Williams] that we have what we need here, but some people are making me look bad."
Now the question is: Who replaces Contreras?
D.J. Carrasco, who made it through 41/3 innings allowing one run as Contreras' immediate successor Saturday, could be the immediate answer.
"We might start Carrasco," Guillen said. "I'm not 100 percent sure, but in my heart he should be the guy."
Carrasco wants the ball.
"When I signed here in the off-season, that's what I came here to do," Carrasco said. "If that's what they want, by all means, that's what I'm going try to do."
Of course, there is also the possibility of waiver trade, although that becomes extremely difficult with so many teams in division races.
While Contreras was missing games with a sore elbow, the Sox had summoned starter Clayton Richard from Triple-A Charlotte and more recently Adam Russell. Reliever Ehren Wasserman was sent to the minors to make room for Contreras' start.
Richard was 0-2 with a 10.83 ERA before his demotion, and Guillen said Saturday night "I don't think he threw the ball good enough" to come up again.
Lefty Wes Whisler (11-7) and righty Lance Broadway (10-7) are the two winningest starters for Charlotte, although Richard is still 6-0. Whisler, a second-round pick in 2004, has a 2.05 ERA in his last six starts.
One intriguing possibility is last year's first-round pick, Aaron Poreda, who pitched for Double-A Birmingham on Friday.
In his last three starts, the hard-throwing left-hander has struck out 20 and walked only two in 21 innings. He is 2-3 with a 3.43 ERA at Birmingham.