MINNEAPOLIS — Over the last month, the Chicago White Sox committed to more than $100 million in future money by adding an elite starting pitcher and an accomplished everyday outfielder.
They picked up Jake Peavy and Alex Rios and were serious about winning the weak AL Central. Now, after the late-night trades of popular teammates Jim Thome and Jose Contreras, the White Sox appear to be in next-year mode. They entered Tuesday's game at Minnesota with eight losses in their last nine.
But manager Ozzie Guillen insisted he's not approaching the situation that way.
"When you go to sleep and think about how good or how bad you are, you're not lying. I'm not lying to myself. Do we have a shot? Of course," Guillen said. "If we keep playing like that, are we going to have a shot? No chance."
The White Sox were six games behind first-place Detroit, with the Twins 3 1/2 back. Six of their last nine games are against the Tigers, so they'll still officially be in the race for a while.
"We're not mathematically out, so you've got to believe that we can do it," outfielder Jermaine Dye said. "If not, so be it."
Thome had a half-hour to decide whether to waive his no-trade clause and go to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"He's all smiles. You never see him down. It's sad to say, but last night was the first time I actually saw him down – when he was told what was going on," Dye said. "You could see it in his face. He didn't know what to do, but after he made his decision he was happy. Their club is pretty much guaranteed to get in the playoffs, and he has a chance to win a World Series."
Thome will be a free agent after the season.
"It's hard. That's the way baseball is. You hang around long enough in this game, you see that thing go on and on, come and go," Guillen said. "Sometimes you lose people you really love, and sometimes you keep people you don't like."
The 39-year-old Thome hasn't been quite the same slugger he's been this decade, but the man with 564 career home runs will be missed in the lineup as well as the clubhouse.
"I think we'll be a different ballclub without him. Everybody has to play better and pick it up a notch," Guillen said. "But a white flag? No."
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski expressed surprise at the move, but declined to criticize general manager Kenny Williams.
"I don't have any influence on the moves. I don't have any influence on who's here and who's not here," Pierzynski said. "I just go out there and play."
Closer Bobby Jenks called Thome "one of the nicest men" he's ever met.
"It's just part of the game. People come and go all the time. I think everyone in this clubhouse knows it and accepts it. We've still got to go out there and try to win, and hopefully this week coming up at home take a better run at this thing."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was relieved.
"Good!" he said, when asked for his reaction to the trade. "I like Jim Thome a lot, but he's probably hit more homers here than anybody. So I'm glad he's out of here for the last two games."
Williams was not available for comment.
Last month, after Rios was added, he defended the risk of his moves and touted the team's makeup.
"Yeah, we're out on a limb a little bit with the last two acquisitions, but what we've seen in recent games at home is our fans are starting to wrap their arms around this team," Williams said then. "People are getting excited about the possibility. I think they can see this team being a dangerous team when we get to the playoffs and match up against anyone."
Getting there this year is not impossible, but hardly probable.
Tests on Peavy's right elbow showed no structural damage, just a bone bruise from a line drive that hit him there eight days ago while he was pitching. But after leaving his rehab start on Sunday while experiencing stiffness, Peavy must wait for swelling to subside before he can play catch again.
In the clubhouse after Monday night's game, Peavy said he wasn't ready to shut down his season.
"We've come this far, and we're not going to quit just yet," he said.
He hasn't pitched since June, long before the trade with the San Diego Padres. He hurt his ankle and has been working his way back from that injury, and after finally feeling as strong as he could he suffered the setback with his elbow.
"And obviously the team is not going well, so that adds on to the frustration," Peavy said.
Guillen said he hasn't been counting on Peavy to return to the rotation since the trade was made.
"When Peavy says, 'Ozzie I'm ready to go,' I'll pencil him in," Guillen said.
The White Sox returned second baseman Chris Getz and outfielder Dewayne Wise from their rehabilitation assignments and reinstated them from the disabled list. They also recalled third baseman Josh Fields and right-hander Carlos Torres from Triple-A Charlotte and purchased the contract of catcher Tyler Flowers on the day major league rosters were allowed to expand. Torres will start in Thursday's makeup game against the crosstown Cubs.