With less than two months left in the regular season, the White Sox rotation is in a state of flux.
John Danks, who hasn't pitched since May 19, underwent surgery on his ailing left shoulder Monday morning and will miss the rest of 2012.
Meanwhile, Philip Humber, he of the perfect game in April, was demoted back to the bullpen as the White Sox abandoned the six-man rotation in favor of a more typical pitching staff. The move helps add another arm to a taxed bullpen that was working a man short.
"It's nice to get another guy in there that can help out," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Jake Peavy, Jose Quintana, Francisco Liriano, Gavin Floyd and Chris Sale will make up the five-man rotation, though Ventura said Humber can slot in if called upon.
"With Phil down in the bullpen, you have the ability that if you need him to, he can start anytime," Ventura said. "In case something happens to somebody and you need a major-league arm, he's the best guy for it. It helps us a lot with flexibility."
That cushion has to be comforting for Ventura, who has seen his rotation take hit after hit this season. Humber joined Danks on the DL earlier this season and Liriano had to leave his start early on Sunday after taking a ball off his leg -- Ventura said Liriano was fine, just nursing a bruise.
Even Sale has been banged up, having been forced to skip several starts this season. Monday is his first appearance since July 27 and the White Sox hope the nine days off will keep the 23-year-old fresh in his first full season as a starter.
"You hope so," Ventura said. "That was the plan of giving Sale a rest. You can find out if it actually works. Nobody knows for sure, but we're erring on the side of helping him out and giving him the best chance possible."
While the Washington Nationals have been adamant that they will keep young phenom Stephen Strasburg on a strict innings limit even amidst a playoff race, the White Sox haven't placed a definitive number on Sale's innings.
Ventura said he and the coaching staff are in constant communication with their pitchers, monitoring their health and listening to them.
"It is unchartered waters with all of them," Ventura said. "Player-wise, everything is day-to-day. Every day a guy plays, it's possible that something could happen that they might not be able to play the next day.
"It's just more on how they feel. It's going to be an individual thing with some pitchers. You just listen to them."
The communication throughout the season has impressed Peavy.
"The organization has to be smart about things and they will," Peavy said. "I think this organization has handled Chris Sale brilliantly...We have an open line of communication from the front office to what's going on in the clubhouse with all of us.
"It's so nice to see an organization work as a cohesive group from the top of the chain all the way down to us and make good decisions for all the players involved. It's a tough situation. These young guys are so valued, but at the same time, I was young and throwing all I could and we weren't even in the mix some of those years."
While the young guns like Sale and Quintana have yet to even approach a 200-inning season in their professional careers, Peavy last reached the 200-inning plateau in 2007. The six-man rotation could have given everybody a chance at an extra day to rest and recuperate.
"Extra rest this time of year is always a good thing, but we're about to get to the point where we're trying to chase down this dream," Peavy said. "You're not going to get to go on extra rest and it's getting to be 'go time' where you have to get out there as much as you can get out there.
"I believe I do have enough rest now where I can go on a normal schedule. I can't speak for anybody else, but you do what you do all year long and you don't ever hold back...The rest that we have gotten, you would hope would just help your body to be a little more ready to handle the next two months of workload and next 10 starts."