BOSTON—Mark Buehrle did more than settle for less money when he agreed to a four-year contract extension with the White Sox two weeks ago. He assured he would remain one of the faces of the franchise.
But Buehrle's popularity and success will shift only some of the scrutiny away from the Sox's latest problems when he takes the mound Monday night against American League Central-leading Detroit.
The Sox sank to new depths Sunday by falling into a tie with Kansas City for last place after an 8-5 loss to the Red Sox that capped a 4-7 trip.
"The fans are angry and disappointed," manager Ozzie Guillen said before the Sox (43-54) lost their third consecutive game. "They have the right to think the way they want to think. But the fans shouldn't think that we're just here and being excited about this scenario, because we don't. I'm embarrassed. I'm sad. Everything you can put out there is on me because I have the responsibility of this ballclub."
The non-waiver trading deadline is July 31, and a roster shakeup is not out of the question with the Sox appearing hopelessly out of playoff contention with 65 games remaining. Regardless of what transpires between now and the deadline, Guillen realizes he has to make the most of what he has to work with for the final 10 weeks.
"I get an e-mail every two minutes saying, 'Bring that guy, bring that guy,' " Guillen said. "But that's why you work in the factory and you're not the general manager, because that's not easy. People are watching TV and look at the minor-league system and look at trades and they think, 'Bring that guy, bring that guy,' and it doesn't work that way."
Thus there are no immediate plans to promote left-hander Gio Gonzalez and Adam Russell from Double-A Birmingham to help shore up the bullpen. On Saturday, Gonzalez, 21, pitched six scoreless innings, and Russell, in his first relief appearance, pitched two scoreless innings.
Russell could receive a September promotion, but the Sox would have to make room on their 40-man roster for each player. Gonzalez's future remains as a starter, based on his 3.15 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 108 2/3 innings.
A scout who watched the 6-foot-8-inch Russell last month said his 96-m.p.h. velocity has dipped since spring training, but his three-quarters arm angle makes him better suited for relief.
"I can't [ask for them now] because I don't want to ruin those kids," Guillen said.
That doesn't rule out bullpen help in the form of a trade. Seattle sent a second scout to Fenway Park to watch the Sox. The Mariners, contending in the AL West, seek starting pitching and a hitter.
Sunday, the Sox rallied from an 8-1 deficit after Jon Garland was tagged for six runs in 4 2/3 innings. They loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth, but Boston's Jonathan Papelbon struck out Jim Thome and induced Paul Konerko to hit into a game-ending double play.
"We miss a big hit or a big pitch," Guillen said. "That's how we've been missing."
Garland accepted blame for his problems but insinuated the Sox's woes have run deeper.
"I don't think we've been attacking the game," Garland said. "We've been sitting back."
Garland never envisioned a last-place standing.
"Not with the talent we have on this team," Garland said. "It's a funny game. It's not always going to go your way. We're learning that this year."