DETROIT—Carl Everett isn't stupid.
He knows that a .266 average in just 43 games isn't going to convince many teams this winter to give him a $4 million contractwhich is the option he holds to return to the White Sox for the 2005 season.
Whether that's good news for the Sox can be debated. Everett has had an injury-marred season, and with the expected return of Frank Thomas next season, it would appear that the bulk of playing time for Everett would have to be in the outfield.
"I think Carl has to show up in shape [next spring training]," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't think Carl can play the outfield in that shape. He's out of shape and everybody knows it. I know it and I hope he knows it."
Everett was on the bench again Monday as the Sox opened their final trip of the season with a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
Jason Grilli threw his first career complete game in a losing effort, giving up just three hits. But one hit was an RBI triple by Craig Monroe in the second to give Detroit a 1-0 lead. Monroe then scored on Jason Smith's squeeze bunt.
After the Sox tied it with single runs in the fourth and fifth, Dmitri Young hit a two-out, two-run home run in the sixth for the final margin.
"If it was on the winning side, it would feel a lot better," Grilli said of his outing. "This is the most I've thrown in a season and should eliminate all doubts and show that I'm healthy."
Guillen is expecting Grilli to come to spring training with a solid chance to make the five-man rotation.
"I've liked this kid since he got here," Guillen said. "He was the last guy we sent down [in spring training] and he's earned a look next year."
The Sox have no choice but to give Everett, 33, a long look next spring.
He has played just once since Sept. 8 after pulling a groin muscle in Texas. It was just one more injury in a season full of them for Everett, who hurt his shoulder early in the season, then his ankle while on a minor-league rehab with the Montreal Expos.
Since coming back to the White Sox in mid-July, he has also hurt his thumb and strained his quadriceps.
"It's frustrating for me because I had two teams depending on me, and I wasn't able to do what I can do," Everett said. "I can deal with the injuries, but not being able to contribute, that's been the toughest part for me."
Even though his team is playing out the string, Guillen is enjoying the wild-card race in the National League. "Every year it's making baseball more exciting," he said. "It's making fans watch baseball more and it gives another team a chance to be in a pennant race. Of course I watch the pennant races. I wish I would be there." ... With Joe Crede's home run Monday, six Sox players have at least 20 homers this season, a first for the franchise.