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updated: 5/11/2012 2:35 PM

White Sox still have some holes to fill

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  • It has been an up-and-down year for the White Sox, and one of the high points has been the return of Adam Dunn's power stroke with 10 home runs. He also has a lot of strikeouts.

      It has been an up-and-down year for the White Sox, and one of the high points has been the return of Adam Dunn's power stroke with 10 home runs. He also has a lot of strikeouts.
    Associated Press

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We're almost a quarter of the way through the season, and the White Sox are right about where all the prognosticators had them pegged.

At 15-17, the Sox are not a team that is scaring anyone. Conversely, they're not a team that you take lightly.

They are pretty average, have some obvious holes and, all in all, they still are not coming through in clutch hitting situations with desired consistency or playing well at U.S. Cellular Field.

But there are two big reasons why you should not pull the plug on this club.

First, White Sox are playing in the AL Central, the weakest division in baseball.

The Minnesota Twins are already out of the race and longtime manager Ron Gardenhire could be fired by the time you get to the end of this column. The Kansas City Royals visit the Cell this weekend, and a three-game sweep by the Sox could put them in the same boat as Minnesota.

Second, the Sox are a team with some interesting story lines and not one of them involves Ozzie Guillen for a change.

Let's use Thursday's break in the schedule to take a closer look:

Chris Sale:

This one is front and center, and it's still got a lot of meat. Sale had an MRI Thursday on his ailing elbow. At least I think it's ailing.

Well, it's ailing enough to keep him from starting, apparently, but not enough to keep him from pitching out of the bullpen.

We'll see what the tests reveal, and here's hoping Sale was just a little freaked out by some standard soreness. It's happened to major-league pitchers before -- a lot of them.

If he is good to go and the White Sox want to use Sale out of the bullpen, that's great. I still think he has the potential to be a No. 1 or 2 starter.

And ... Addison Reed would have been my closer coming out of spring training.

Peavy's performance:

Speaking of pitchers with injury problems, what is up, Jake Peavy? Not only is he healthy, Peavy is already pushing to win his second straight AL Pitcher of the Month award.

The 1997 Cy Young winner has allowed 4 earned runs over 14 innings in May. For the season, Peavy is tied for second in the league with 4 wins and ranks third with a 1.89 ERA.

If he stays healthy and keeps buzzing through opposing lineups, you know what's going to happen, right?

The July 31 trade deadline is going to roll around, and White Sox general manager Kenny Williams is going to have to make a huge decision.

If the Sox are still slogging along, contending teams in need of an ace starter are going to come calling. A bidding war will ensue, and Williams can deal Peavy for two, possibly three prime prospects.

If the White Sox are contending, Williams can keep Peavy, decline the crazy $22 million club option for 2013 at the end of the season, and try to work out a more reasonable extension.

Not Dunn yet:

Adam Dunn? Adam Dunn!

Welcome back to the big man and -- like Peavy -- what a pleasant surprise for the Sox.

Dunn hit his 10th home run of the season in Wednesday night's 8-1 win at Cleveland. The designated hitter/first baseman is only one HR shy of last year's total, and he didn't hit No. 10 until July 26.

On the other hand, Dunn is still a strikeout machine. He has gone down on strikes in 36 straight games, the longest streak since Pirates pitcher Bob Veale in 1967-68.

The strikeouts are OK, as long as Dunn is hammering the ball over the fence and taking his walks, which he is.

Through Wednesday's play, Dunn and Paul Konerko had 16 home runs and 43 RBI combined as No. 3-4 hitters. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder had 12 HR and 37 RBI.

With 14 home runs and 36 RBI by himself, Texas' Josh Hamilton is in a completely different stratosphere.

Perfectly confounding:

What's happened to Philip Humber, or, more important, how did he pitch that perfect game?

Humber really started fading in the second half of last season, but he grabbed worldwide attention with a perfect game at Seattle on April 21, his second start.

Humber's ERA was 0.63 after pitching that gem. Three starts later, the ERA is up to 6.83.

Has a pitcher ever gone from a perfect game to the waiver wire in the same season? For Humber's sake, here's hoping that's a rhetorical question.

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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