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East Texan ready to step in as fifth starter for White Sox

By J.C. Derrick Sports correspondent
March 30, 2011 at 11 p.m.

Since 2007 Philip Humber has been the property of five big league teams spanning from one coast to another.

Now he's found a home in the middle.

As the Chicago White Sox prepare to open the season against the Cleveland Indians on Friday, Humber appears ready to be the fifth starter in the club's pitching rotation.

"My goal is not to make the team, but to stay there and contribute to winning," the Carthage native said. "I think it's a team that has a chance to make some noise come October and I want to be a part of it."

The White Sox entered spring training with a solid projected rotation of Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Edwin Jackson and Jake Peavy, leaving Humber to fight for a spot in the bullpen. But 10 days ago the oft-injured Peavy was diagnosed with rotator cuff tendinitis and Humber was there to step in.

While manager Ozzie Guillen has not officially announced his rotation, he came very close to naming Humber the club's fifth starter.

"I don't see anybody out there better than what we have," Guillen said. "His stuff his good. I don't see why not keep him there and see what he can do."

Humber's offseason led him on an unusual path to the White Sox. After a solid finish to the season with Kansas City in a relief role (2-1, 4.15 ERA), the Royals designated him for assignment in December.

"I was kind of surprised that that happened," Humber said. "They said they wanted me to clear waivers, so they could keep me."

The Oakland A's had other plans.

The A's claimed Humber on Dec. 17, but then tried to slip him through waivers on Jan. 18. The White Sox promptly snatched up the 27-year-old right-hander.

"It was kind of weird," Humber said. "Two years ago I got designated twice and cleared both times. To get claimed is kind of rare."

Humber went to camp as a leading candidate to be Chicago's long reliever, and he flourished in that role. In his first five appearances Humber put up a 2.45 ERA, allowing three earned runs in 11 innings of work.

"I feel like I've done enough this spring training to prove I can be a major-league pitcher," he said.

Humber got his first start in place of Peavy last Thursday and had his first rough outing of the spring. He gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings, but said the main goal was to reach 70 pitches in preparation for being a starter.

"That was the main goal ... to get me stretched out. Before that the most pitches I had thrown in one outing was 36," he said. "That's what spring training is for. You have things you have to work on."

Humber appeared Tuesday in a controlled game and gave up four runs in four innings,

Humber said making the adjustment to being a starter is more challenging physically than mentally.

"Mentally, it's the same," he said. "I still have to go out there and make good pitches. Being a long reliever, you have multiple innings anyway."

If Humber is named the fifth starter, his first start could be Wednesday against his old team at Kansas City.



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