Replacing Paul Konerko in the Chicago White Sox lineup is not an easy thing to do. Just ask Dayan Viciedo.
Viciedo was moved to the cleanup spot in the batting order for Konerko, who has missed two straight games after undergoing a procedure on his left wrist. Konerko leads the majors with a .366 batting average and hasn't played since Saturday. Viciedo is 0-for-7 in the two games Konerko has missed and will have to step it up tonight in the middle portion of a three-game series versus the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field.
Konerko hasn't been on fire of late either, going 1-for-16 in his last four games, and could return Wednesday. He has had three days' rest since Saturday.
"Yeah, your body always feels better," said Konerko. "It gets to cool down for a couple of days. I think over the last year or so it has worked out well. We'll see.
"Sometimes it's not immediate, but you kind of feel [better] more during the week. Sometimes it is immediate. You put in a good day's work and get back out there."
Chicago suffered a 9-5 loss to the Jays last night and managed just seven hits, with Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski finishing with two hits apiece. Pierzynski hit a two-run homer and Adam Dunn also went deep for the White Sox, whose lead atop the AL Central standings was trimmed to 1 1/2 games ahead of Cleveland. Chicago has lost two of three games since winning nine straight and 13 of 14 games, and is 2-2 on a nine-game homestand.
Pale Hose starter Philip Humber was dealt the loss for giving up five runs and seven hits in five innings of work. Zach Stewart allowed four runs -- three earned -- in relief.
"If you allow your struggles to make you stronger, they will," said Humber, who is 1-3 in his last four decisions since throwing a no-hitter on April 21. "I'm going to be really strong after all these struggles."
Jose Quintana's previous start didn't last very long, as he was ejected for throwing behind Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Ben Zobrist in a 4-3 Chicago win last Wednesday. Quintana pitched 3 2/3 innings that day and gave up a home run, while striking out two batters and walking none.
The rookie left-hander then pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief during a 10-8 loss to Seattle on Saturday. Quintana is 1-0 with a 1.69 earned run average in four games (2 starts) this season and will face Toronto for the first time.
Toronto opened a six-game road trip through Chicago and Atlanta on a high note and aims for another three-game winning streak tonight. The Blue Jays, who recently swept Baltimore in three games from May 28-30, received a fine performance last night from Colby Rasmus, as he ended 5-for-5 with a home run, three RBI and four runs scored.
"Tonight they fell in for me, which is nice," said Rasmus. "I felt comfortable at the plate with what I was trying to do with my approach and it worked out."
David Cooper hit a two-run homer and collected three RBI for the Jays, who won for the fifth time in seven tries and sit two games off the lead in the AL East. The Blue Jays managed to get starting pitcher Ricky Romero his seventh win of the season (7-1) even though he didn't have his best stuff. Romero allowed five runs -- three earned -- and six hits in seven innings.
Francisco Cordero and Luis Perez each threw a scoreless inning of relief.
Blue Jays slugging first baseman Edwin Encarnacion did not play on Tuesday after he sustained a bruised right hand when he was hit by a pitch from Boston's Daniel Bard on Sunday.
"The first day was bad, a lot of pain, a lot of soreness, but today I'm feeling a lot better," said Encarnacion, who could return tonight and leads the club with 17 homers and 43 RBI. "It's getting better and better and I just have to keep doing my routine, doing my training and see how I'll be tomorrow."
The Blue Jays will pin pitching duties on Brandon Morrow Wednesday and he has alternated decisions in each of his last five starts. Morrow came out on the winning end of a 4-1 triumph versus Baltimore last Wednesday and gave up just one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Morrow rebounded nicely from an ugly start at Texas on May 25, when he lasted only two-thirds of an inning and surrendered six runs and five hits. He is 6-3 in 11 starts this season to go along with a 3.28 ERA. He also hasn't allowed a home run in seven straight starts after permitting six in his initial three starts of the season. The right-hander, who is 3-1 in five road starts, owns an 0-1 mark in nine career games (4 starts) against Chicago.
Toronto and Chicago are meeting for the first time since the Blue Jays won four of seven encounters a season ago.