Jose Contreras’ stuff is good enough for him to be a dominant pitcher. Inconsistency, however, has plagued him in his brief major league career.
Contreras makes his first start for Chicago since being acquired from the New York Yankees for All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza at the trading deadline when the White Sox begin a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals.
Contreras was wildly inconsistent for New York since signing a $32 million, four-year contract after defecting from Cuba in October 2002. He was shuffled in and out of the Yankees’ rotation, and was sent down to the minors a few times to work on his mechanics.
He was hit hard in his last two starts and is 8-5 with a 5.64 ERA in 18 games this season. Overall, the right-hander went 15-7 with a 4.64 ERA for New York, but was 0-4 with a 16.43 ERA against the rival Boston Red Sox.
Contreras was reunited with his wife and children when they defected from Cuba last month, and the Yankees hoped that would help him on the mound.
But he was roughed up by Boston in a nationally televised game at Fenway Park on July 25, then lost 9-1 to Baltimore on Thursday.
Contreras has often flashed a nasty splitter, and the White Sox are hoping he can help them make a run in the AL Central where they are five games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins.
“I’ve seen him pitch three times as a coach and he has really impressed me,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Hopefully, all his problems are behind him and a change of (scenery) from New York will help. He came to New York and they had a lot of expectations.
“He was a big Cuban guy and they gave him a lot of money. Coming to Chicago will be easier for him. All the attention and hype will be away and he can focus on pitching.”
The White Sox snapped a season-high, seven-game losing streak with a 6-4 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday behind another in-season pitching acquisition.
Freddy Garcia, obtained from the Seattle Mariners on June 27, allowed four runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings, striking out eight and walking one to improve to 5-2 with a 3.67 ERA in seven starts for Chicago.
“That’s why we got him,” Guillen said. “So he can stop the bleeding.”
Kansas City is looking to tie its season-high winning streak at three after seeing its bats come alive in a weekend series with the Cleveland Indians.
The Royals, last in the AL with a .255 team batting average, scored 24 runs in the series after scoring 11 in their previous seven games.
Kansas City took two of three games for its first series win since it took three of four from Minnesota from July 15-18. That was also the last time, before this past weekend, that the Royals won back-to-back games.
“We’re finally getting back to playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” said Kansas City manager Tony Pena, whose team had lost eight straight before winning its last two.
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