CHICAGO -- Although Philip Humber went from Sept. 4-16 without getting into a game, the veteran hurler's upbeat attitude never changed.
He came to the ballpark ready to pitch or help the team win every day. During that down time, though, the right-hander also had chances to work on the side and continue correcting some bad habits that have contributed to his strange season with the White Sox.
"Everyone is always working on something, but I feel like I've gotten better in a lot of ways by just getting back to what I was doing before when I was being successful," said Humber, who mentioned the bad habits as part of the reason why he went to the disabled list with a right elbow flexor strain.
"I feel like I kind of got into a point where I was being real slow in my delivery," Humber continued. "Then all of a sudden, I needed to get to my release point and now you are trying to go hard and just kind of putting a lot of stress on my arm instead of just being kind of free and easy and more an athletic move like I'm trying to do now."
Humber began the year as one of the five White Sox starting pitchers and hurled the 21st perfect game in Major League history on April 21 at Seattle. His results since have not lived up to that unforgettable moment, with Humber posting a 5-5 record and 6.14 ERA in 15 starts and an 8.36 ERA over 10 relief outings.
That previous relief appearance on Sept. 4 produced eight runs allowed on seven hits in one-third of an inning against the Twins, before Humber bounced back to throw a 1-2-3 inning in Minnesota on Sunday. Humber has handled this year's ups and downs with dignity, but those struggles make his White Sox future a bit uncertain for the first time arbitration-eligible pitcher in 2013.
The third pick overall in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft joked Monday that he's out of the prediction business, specifically in regard to how he fits with the team. For now, he's happy to do what he can to help the White Sox reach the postseason.
"As a team, we have a lot left to do and hopefully this would be the craziest year for me," Humber said. "It started out with a perfect game and ended with a championship. That would be something awesome.
"It's been a fun year. It's not exactly how I would have drawn it up for myself, but I'm happy that we are in the position that we are in as a team and looking forward to seeing what happens.
"At the same time, if I had my way, it would be a whole lot smoother, trust me," Humber said. "I'm not planning on these ups and downs. It's just part of it. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it and everybody would be having success doing it."
Peavy has ace value beyond the numbers
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale leads White Sox starters with 17 victories, a 2.78 ERA, a .222 average against and most compliments given out by opposing hitters. But ask the first-year rotation member if he's the ace of the staff for the American League Central leaders and he'll quickly and consistently defer to Jake Peavy.
Peavy evened his record at 11-11 in the White Sox victory over the Twins on Sunday and tops the South Siders with 198 2/3 innings pitched, 29 starts made and 177 strikeouts. His importance as a leader on this staff goes beyond the statistics, though, with his veteran influence helping younger pitchers like Sale.
"I try to be the best teammate I can be," said Peavy, who ranks third in the Majors with 21 quality starts. "That's being observant and talking to guys in a humble way, not ever thinking like you are getting on anybody, and just trying to be a teammate.
"We are all pulling the same rope here. We are all pulling the same direction. If I can say something or help somebody prepare or give some knowledge in any which direction, I'm certainly going to do that in hopes we are a better team because of it."
Peavy tries to lead by example in terms of the intensity and preparation he brings to the field, but also enjoys interacting with his teammates. The right-hander will open this weekend's series in Anaheim and then have home and away starts against Cleveland, before he hopes this first healthy season with the White Sox moves on to the postseason.
"Hopefully in Chicago, people see me for who I am now and not the hurt and injured guy that I was for the first few years," Peavy said. "I'm truly healthy now. I give it everything I got in between starts and on my starting day."
Rios tripling his pleasure taking extra base
CHICAGO -- Alex Rios' sixth-inning triple during Sunday's victory over the Twins matched the White Sox right fielder's single-season career high of eight. Having enough speed to produce 22 stolen bases helps Rios in taking that extra base, but as Rios explained on Monday, there's almost an art to hitting a three-bagger.
"It's judging how quick the outfielders get to the ball," Rios said. "Like yesterday, that's a good example of [Denard] Span probably thought I was going to stop at second and he picked the ball up not as quick as he usually does. So I saw that, and I had a good chance to get to third because he was so far away.
"Those things you have to take into consideration. Sometimes you know it's going to be a triple, depending on the field or stuff like that. Usually you have to see how quick they pick up the ball and how close they are to second base when they are picking the ball. It's a combination of those things."
Rios has 43 career triples but still considers it an exciting play for more than just the fans watching.
"Definitely it's exciting for me because when I'm turning the base and I'm getting to third, sometimes it's a close call," Rios said. "I'm thinking, 'Am I going to make it or not going to make it?' It's definitely a fun thing to do."
Third to first
Dewayne Wise received a second straight start in center and as the White Sox leadoff man Monday, following Alejandro De Aza's four-strikeout effort Saturday.
"Saturday, [De Aza] just seemed out of sync," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "We'll wait for him to kind of work on that and get back in there."
With the White Sox playing 20 games in 20 days to finish the 2012 season, breaks could come to everyday players via a couple of innings off in games where there are bigger leads or deficits.
"You know they're going to play a lot going down the stretch. That's a way to get them out, give them a breather," Ventura said. "It didn't seem like a lot but it is over the course of the last 20 days.
"Just give them a half-day. Get them out for a few innings and then it gets some other guys at-bats, too, instead of just sitting on the bench and asking them to do something in a game when they haven't been in a game for a while."
Tuesday's White Sox game at Kauffman Stadium has been moved from Comcast SportsNet Plus to the main channel. As a result of the change, the Cubs game will now be broadcast on CSN Plus. The White Sox are 26-10 in their last 36 home games, 31-19 in day games and 24-17 in one-run games following Monday's 5-4 victory over Detroit. Left-handed reliever Donnie Veal has retired all 24 left-handed batters faced, including 12 by strikeout. As a team, the White Sox are hitting .171 with runners in scoring position over their last eight home games. Nate Jones joined John Whitehead (1935) as the only White Sox rookie pitchers to begin their careers 8-0.