Contending teams look forward to hitting the stretch run of the season and making a final push toward the playoffs.
Since the White Sox are anything but a contender this year, the upcoming week figures to be the most interesting of the season.
The July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline is quickly approaching, and as a flock of scouts continue to monitor the Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, the rumors are really heating up.
Here are the latest:
ŸThe Red Sox, Braves and Athletics are all interested in starting pitcher Jake Peavy, who takes the mound against the Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander on Thursday afternoon in what very well could be his last appearance in a White Sox uniform.
Atlanta scout Jim Fregosi is in town and -- after Braves starter Tim Hudson was carted off the field Wednesday night after being spiked while covering first base -- Peavy likely became even more attractive.
When the Cubs dealt Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers on Monday, Peavy became the most desirable available starter on the market.
On the flip side, the 32-year-old pitcher was on the disabled list from June 5-July 19 with a fractured rib, and Peavy hasn't stayed healthy for an entire season since 2007.
Peavy (7-4, 4.19 ERA) came off the DL and started against the Braves on Saturday and was pretty sharp, allowing 4 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits in 6 innings. His fastball was a steady 93-94 mph, and if Peavy delivers another solid outing against Detroit on Thursday the Sox could get a decent package of prospects for him in a trade.
"I'm pretty abreast of what's going on, and (general manager) Rick (Hahn) does an incredible job of staying in contact with us," Peavy said. "You know, just being professional, just letting us know kind of how things stand.
"If something does happen I'm not going to be caught off guard by it. We do understand that's a possibility and in the reality of the situation we hope it doesn't happen, but at the end of the day it is a reality and we're prepared for it if it does happen."
ŸThe Rangers have emerged as a likely destination for Alex Rios, and the link makes sense.
Not only was Texas ninth in the American League with 425 runs scored heading into Wednesday, Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz's name is tied to the Biogenesis Clinic performance-enhancing drugs scandal.
If Cruz gets a suspension like the Brewers' Ryan Braun (65 games), Texas is going to have a gaping hole in right, which Rios would plug.
A weary Rios said he's looking forward to getting past next Wednesday's 3 p.m. (Chicago time) trade deadline.
"Yeah, it gets old," Rios said. "When that date is arriving you get a little anxious to see what your fate is going to be. I just have no idea what will happen. Hopefully it's for the good of both sides. Whatever happens, happens."
ŸThe Jesse Crain situation got interesting Wednesday.
Out since June 30 with a right-shoulder strain, Crain threw his first bullpen Tuesday and said he felt "OK" the day after.
The White Sox' relief pitcher will try throwing off the mound again Thursday, but you have to wonder if he will be able to pitch in a game before the trade deadline. If he can get healthy fast, Crain (0.74 ERA) could bring back a very good prospect, maybe two.
"It (trade) is in the back of my mind, but right now I'm more focused on being healthy and being able to pitch," said Crain, a free agent at season's end. "I'm not going to be going anywhere if I can't pitch, so that's what I'm focusing on right now."
ŸThe Chicago Tribune reported the Sox turned down a trade offer from St. Louis that would have sent shortstop Alexei Ramirez to the Cardinals for Carlos Martinez, a top minor-league starter.
A deal still could happen with the Cards as the deadline nears, and the Pirates are another contending team that needs an upgrade at short.
ŸThe Rangers like Alex Rios, and they apparently are kicking the tires on White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza as well.
De Aza, who actually is more comfortable in left field, didn't have much to say about the rumor Wednesday.
"I just worry about playing baseball," he said. "I think we still have talent here and we can turn it around."
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