Pitching for the first time after a nine-day rest, Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale put all the talk about his decreasing velocity and his "dead arm" period behind him, looking like the pitcher who earned All-Star status because of a dominant first half.
Sale threw eight innings in getting the win against the Kansas City Royals, allowing two runs on eight hits. He struck out seven and didn't issue a walk. And while there was some confusion on when Sale would be pitching again because of the six-man rotation the White Sox have been using, manager Robin Ventura cleared everything up before Chicago's 4-2 win over the Royals.
According to Ventura, the addition of Francisco Liriano was able to give both Sale, Jake Peavy and rookie Jose Quintana some much needed extra rest, and now the Sox will scrap the six-man crew, returning to a standard five-man rotation.
That made Philip Humber the odd man out for the time being, with the right-hander demoted to the bullpen until further notice.
"Having Phil in the bullpen, you have the flexibility of someone who could (spot) start any time," Ventura said. "If you need a major league arm, he's got it."
Ventura said the plan originally was to give Sale extra time off, though apparently not long term.
"Now you'll find out if it actually works," Ventura said.
Humber was an easy choice, not only because of his struggles since his April 21 perfect game, but because he was stretched out and able to step in if the Sox do want the option of again pushing back a Sale or Quintana.
"(The bullpen has) been a little short since the Minnesota series (a week earlier), so it's nice to get another guy in there to help," Ventura said.
As far as where Humber's head was at, the righty understood the decision.
"I've been through a lot of ups and downs in my career, but that prepares you," Humber said. "This season already has had ups and downs, but I'm thankful for the opportunity in the bullpen as much as starting. It's been a tough year but also an awesome year for the team."