Marte in Guillen's Dog House
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 15, 2005 5:55PM
The White Sox have had surprisingly little drama involving his players throughout the season. In some part, that's what winning can do. Although even last year's champion Red Sox has to deal with Nomar Garciaparra's trade and Manny Ramirez's trade demands. But one issue that may be developing into a distraction for manager Ozzie Guillen involves relief pitcher Damaso Marte.
Marte has pitched inconsistently of late, and many wondered if he was again hiding an injury as he did early in the season. Guillen chewed him out for that, but once he returned from the DL he seemed to pitch better and stay in line. Lately, he'd again been pitching pretty inconsistently while claiming he was fine. Only after a horrible outing last week that saw Marte hit the only two batters he faced, did he complain of a sore shoulder. When a couple days later he arrived to the park late for personal reasons not cleared ahead of time, Guillen sent him home and basically told him to wait and see whether he'd be invited to rejoin the team. The team headed off to Kansas City without him. There was talk that Marte was headed to the DL, ending his season. Whether it was a result of his shoulder or head wasn't known at first.
With the rest of the team in KC, Sox team doctors in Chicago checked Marte's shoulder this week and said while there may be soreness, there was nothing significantly wrong with it. With the luxury of expanded 40-man rosters in September, Guillen has left the door open to a Marte return this weekend when the Sox face Minnesota -- rather than place him on the DL to free up a roster spot. It may be Marte's last shot to prove he deserves a spot on the team's playoff roster. Should things not go well with Marte, on or off the field, he could be sent home for the season.
The Sox can't afford a distration this time of year, and they need to settle the bullpen situation heading into the post season as quickly as possible. Marte can't be a huge question mark looming over the team. With only one other lefty in the bullpen, the Sox hope Marte can redeem himself. Otherwise, the Sox will be forced to rely on
Cliff Politte Neal Cotts as the only lefty. Is that an issue, though? Chicagoist has long thought the whole lefty/righty matchup game that plays out in the late innings of games is overrated. Statistically, a number of the Sox right-handed relievers fare better than Marte against left-handed batters. So maybe it isn't such a detriment to have only one southpaw in the bullpen. On the other hand, to fill the spot the Sox would likely turn to rookie Brandon McCarthy. As a starter, can he adapt to coming out of the bullpen? The Sox have only a couple weeks to find out.