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WSI News - News Watch

Starting rotation still up in the air

March 23, 2002

By Doug Padilla, Chicago Sun-Times

TUCSON, Ariz.--White Sox manager Jerry Manuel knows who the starting pitchers will be but his rotation has not been finalized.

Manuel named Mark Buehrle, Todd Ritchie, Dan Wright, Jon Garland and Jon Rauch as his starters Friday. Buehrle will start Opening Day, with Ritchie following. Rauch will assume the No. 5 spot. Wright and Garland, though, are fighting for the No. 3 spot.

Manuel had been hinting that Wright might assume the spot based on a strong outing as a rookie at Seattle last season. The Sox' opening three-game series is at Seattle's Safeco Field. But Garland hasn't been ruled out of the opening series.

"I want to watch these next couple of outings and we'll study the matchups [against the Mariners] and see who is a better matchup,'' Manuel said.

The emergence of Rauch this spring was something Manuel said he didn't expect.

"Probably one of the most difficult things was that Jim Parque didn't really respond [from injury], but on the other end Jon Rauch really did,'' Manuel said. "He really competed for me, and I like that.''

The 2000 Olympic gold medalist, who is returning from shoulder surgery last May, is expected to make his major-league debut in relief during the first week of the season, then get his first career start on April 9.

As for the bullpen, Manuel said Keith Foulke is his closer despite recent struggles. Gary Glover and Antonio Osuna will share the setup-man duties. Lorenzo Barcelo, Bob Howry and Kelly Wunsch also will start the season in the bullpen, with left-hander Mike Porzio a possibility if the Sox open with 12 pitchers.

GETTING THERE: Parque pitched in another B game Friday, giving up eight hits and two runs in five innings. He faced the minimum nine batters through the first three innings thanks to a pickoff and two double plays.

The Sox said Parque won't return until his velocity increases, yet no radar guns were used in his outing. Parque, who had shoulder surgery last summer, had been stuck at 84 mph in his last two outings.

Afterward, Parque appeared miffed that nobody used a radar guy to track any possible progress.

Manuel said it was likely Parque had been distracted by radar gun readings during B game starts and it was affecting his pitching.

White Sox general manager Ken Williams refused to elaborate on why a radar gun was not used.

"He threw better today,'' was all Williams would say when asked. "We saw what we wanted to see and we were encouraged by what we saw. [Parque] feels good about it and we feel good about it.

"It's not important why we did or didn't [use a radar gun].''



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