The Chicago White Sox had a lot of moving parts with the roster Thursday, but they didn't score a whole lot of runs in a 5-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, although two in the ninth made a one-sided game look closer than it was.
Before Chicago lost for the third time in the four-game series against the Orioles, manager Robin Ventura and general manager Ken Williams got together and did all they could to prepare for a crucial three-game series against the Tigers in Detroit, and that meant flipping around some players on the roster.
Pitcher Dylan Axelrod was sent down to Class AA Birmingham after his solid Wednesday start, but will be recalled next week when the rosters expand. The Sox also had to place Tyler Flowers on paternity leave, with the backup catcher and his wife expecting their first child.
To fill those two spots, the Sox purchased the contracts of infielder Jose Lopez and catcher Hector Gimenez from Class AAA Charlotte.
Lopez had been with Charlotte since the White Sox signed him to a minor league deal on Aug. 15. Lopez hit .306 with 10 RBI with the Knights, and he gave them an immediate veteran presence, a career .262 hitter with the Mariners, Rockies, Marlins and Indians. Lopez got a start at third base in Thursday's loss to Baltimore, and he went 2-for-4.
"This adds an extra infielder in case we have to move some guys around," manager Robin Ventura said. "He's a big plus for us. We've been going with quite a few pitchers and really only three guys on the bench, so this is one of those that gets us to a better spot."
With Flowers gone for a few days, Gimenez arrived to fill in. Considering the magnitude of the Tigers series, Ventura will likely lean on veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski for all three games, but Gimenez gives the team some insurance. He came in late in Thursday's game and got a hit in his first AL at-bat. Gimenez had brief stints with the Astros (2006) and the Dodgers (2011).
"I'm excited to be here, and I'm ready to help win," Gimenez said. "That's the mind-set I need to have here."
To clear spots for Lopez and Gimenez on the 40-man roster, the Sox gave reliever Gregory Infante his unconditional release and transferred reliever Brian Bruney from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.
Infante was 21-24 with a 3.79 ERA in 180 minor league appearances. He pitched in five games for the White Sox last season, throwing 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
Bruney has been out since June 25 due to a left hip injury, and he underwent season-ending surgery Aug. 13.
The hope is the changes give the Sox their best opportunity to face a Tigers team that has been chasing them in the division race most of the season.
"Obviously, it's a big series, but we don't want to put too much pressure on ourselves," second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "We're doing fine. There's no need to make it bigger than it is. We've got seven games left with them, and you want to win at least three or four of those games."