HOUSTON -- Daniel Webb currently works whenever needed out of the White Sox bullpen, throwing 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in Saturday's loss. But the right-hander is showing the stuff that makes up a closer, which should be in Webb's future.
Left-handed hitters are just 6-for-39 against Webb this season, and 12-for-62 in his career. It's a change for the better that began for Webb last season, when he moved over to the first-base side of the rubber.
"That may have something to do with it," Webb said. "I'm also better at throwing my slider inside to a lefty than I am throwing it away to a righty.
"It's just you have more of a straight line to the inside part of the plate," said Webb of moving to the first-base side of the rubber. "It has helped me with my fastball away to righties too. It's more straight, and if you are over on the third-base side, you have to throw across the plate to get it there."
When Webb gets to two strikes with a hitter, they are 5-for-37 against him with 18 strikeouts. Being able to finish off the opposition, while also handling left-handers or right-handers, could make for an interesting ninth-inning future mix.
"I think that is everybody's goal in the bullpen is to be a closer someday," Webb said. "I was happy to have my name thrown into the mix on possible closing [in Spring Training]. That's my ultimate goal someday. But right now, I just need to get outs whenever they need me."
Konerko ready to take on increased role
HOUSTON -- The playing time will change for White Sox captain Paul Konerko over the next two weeks, with first baseman Jose Abreu placed on the disabled list Sunday due to posterior tibial tendinitis in his left ankle.
Konerko's day-to-day focus as part of part-time playing preparation up to this point of the season will not be adjusted.
"You just react to what's there. I don't look at it any more than that," Konerko said. "I don't know how else to say it. Whatever they ask me to do, I'll do. I'll do my best at it, and that's it. It's pretty simple. Whatever they need, I'll do. If it's play, play. If not, I'll be ready to pinch-hit."
"That's part of signing up to do what you do, you get thrust into this," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Konerko. "He's not concerned about it. He's prepared to go in. It's not an unusual situation for him. It's different than the role he just had for the start of the season."
In his 16th and final season with the White Sox, Konerko had 48 at-bats through 24 games played entering Sunday. He knew in coming back for this final season exactly what his role would be, and he has embraced the part-time playing, full-time mentoring task placed in front of him.
Basically, there was no agenda for the franchise's all-time leader in total bases coming into the season. And splitting time with Adam Dunn between first base and designated hitter won't change that thought process for the veteran with 435 career homers.
"I know the role was to expect the unexpected, to be ready at all times -- whether that be in the middle of the game like yesterday, the end of the game, the start of the game," Konerko said. "I was pretty dialed into that, and still am.
"If they want me to play some now because Jose's out, I'll try to hold the fort until he gets back. I don't have a plan other than just to be ready."
Sale to rejoin White Sox on Monday for evaluation
HOUSTON -- The big league return for Chris Sale seems to get closer with each passing day.
Per Sunday comments made by manager Robin Ventura and general manager Rick Hahn, Sale was feeling good after striking out 11 over four innings in Friday's injury rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte at Durham and doing his first-day work Saturday. Sale will join the White Sox on Monday in Kansas City to have his recovery from a flexor muscle strain in his left arm evaluated in person.
"He'll be there tomorrow so I can get my hands on him," said a smiling Ventura. "He's feeling pretty good. I don't know if it's as perfect as you want to be, but he is feeling good after throwing the other day. He's going to come to Kansas City so we can evaluate him. It's part of hearing him, but we want to see him and see what happens."
"We'll be able to evaluate him in person and come up with a plan moving forward from there," said Hahn, who added Sale is experiencing nothing more than normal post-start soreness. "Again, I don't like putting time frames on guys' returns until we know for certain they are back, but certainly he's progressing very well and we are optimistic he'll be back in the near future."
Ventura didn't seem to be leaning toward Wednesday in Kansas City -- when Sale was next scheduled to pitch -- as the date for Sale's first appearance since one-hitting the Red Sox over seven innings and 127 pitches on April 17. But Sale could bypass a second injury rehab start, throw on the side in Kansas City and pitch this weekend at home against the Yankees.
"He could," said Ventura, referring to Sale doing some work in Kansas City, but not committing to his next start. "Again, we are going to make sure about all of this when we get there, that he's able to do all the things that [pitching coach Don Cooper] likes to put him through to make sure he feels good. There's no sense having him come there and not do anything. He'll probably throw a little bit."
Eaton activated from disabled list
HOUSTON -- The bad news Sunday for the White Sox came in the form of Jose Abreu being placed on the 15-day disabled list with posterior tibial tendinitis in his left ankle. The good news arrived in the form of leadoff man and center fielder Adam Eaton returning from his injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte and being activated from the DL.
Needless to say, being out of action since May 3 with a strained right hamstring did not sit well with the energetic Eaton.
"Awful. It was awful, but I'm pumped to be back, for sure," said Eaton, who started Sunday's series finale in Houston. "It's not fun. It really isn't. I get stir crazy really easy.
"When you can't contribute to the team, I'm still relatively new here and I want to contribute as much as I can to kind of win over the guys' faith in me in the outfield and at bat. Not to be able to do that definitely takes away from my day and my personality. I'm very excited to be able to contribute to the team and help the team win."
Eaton finished 2-for-6 with one RBI and one stolen base in a doubleheader with Charlotte on Friday. He felt good running in Oakland with the White Sox but knew he needed to be game-tested.
"It's good to go down and get some confidence. That was the key," Eaton said. "Game speed is a lot different than just running around the field. It was good to steal a base, and I tracked a few balls down. Kind of getting that confidence that you can go out and do it at game speed."
Third to first
• Alexei Ramirez moved past Chico Carrasquel for the fourth-most games played at shortstop in franchise history. Ramirez played in career game No. 836 on Sunday, now only trailing Luke Appling (2,218), Ozzie Guillen (1,724) and Luis Aparicio (1,508).
• Abreu had appeared in every game during the 2014 season until being placed on the disabled list Sunday.
• Konerko needs two RBIs to reach 1,400 for his career.