There are still seven weeks to go before the White Sox call it a season, but Saturday's game against the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field definitely had a 2014 feel.
Andre Rienzo was on the mound making his first home start for the Sox. Avisail Garcia also made his first start, in center field.
David Purcey capably filled in for former left-handed setup man Matt Thornton, who was traded to the Boston Red Sox last month, and Nate Jones stepped in again and picked up the slack left by departed Jesse Crain, who was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays.
"There is a different element to it that you have some younger guys up here that you can move around and just see what they can do," manager Robin Ventura said. "This is a process of moving forward that you're kind of assessing more things than you were before."
The Sox edged Minnesota 5-4, snapping a 12-game losing streak against AL Central teams.But winning, or losing, is no longer the top priority for these last-place White Sox.
Getting players like Rienzo and Garcia playing time -- and hopefully confidence -- is Job One.
Expect some growing pains.
Making his third overall start since coming up from Class AAA Charlotte on July 30 to replace Jake Peavy, who also was traded to the Red Sox, Rienzo displayed some obvious skill while recording 5 strikeouts in 51⁄3 innings.
But the 25-year-old Brazilian also showed he's nowhere near a finished product while allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 5 walks.
"I tried to focus on some things today, and it didn't happen," Rienzo said. "We had two games (Friday) and I tried to be out there for a long time on the mound to help out the bullpen. I battle as hard as I can, but unfortunately my control today wasn't that good.
"But I'm glad the team won. It's important the team wins, and I'm glad that happened."
Over 181⁄3 innings in his first 3 starts with the White Sox, Rienzo has issued 11 walks.
"Bad," Rienzo said. "It's bad. Seriously. It's really bad."
In time, Ventura expects Rienzo to be good.
"I don't know if it's a worry," Ventura said of Rienzo's high walk total. "For a guy being up here for the first time, you wish it wasn't there. But that's part of learning how to pitch up here.
"Hitters are better, they can work you around a little bit, and if you leave one over the plate they'll make you pay for it. It's a learning process for them, but seeing what he has, it's nice to see."
Garcia pinch hit in Game 2 Friday night and struck out and later was hit by a pitch while playing center and right field. The 22-year-old outfielder started in center Saturday and moved over to right in the eighth inning.
Garcia was 1-for-4 with 2 strikeouts. His first hit in a Sox uniform came when he led off the sixth inning with a single up the middle.
"I was trying to put the ball in play and get on base," he said. "I did, and I scored. I'm relaxed a little bit more. I just try to play hard and do the right thing to help my team win.
"I feel good here. People here are great and they support me good."