Strengths not adding up for Sox

CHICAGO -- While the bullpen strains under the weight it is being asked to carry and the defense continues to provide more assistance to the opposing offense, the Chicago White Sox continue to drift aimlessly.

Another loss by a reliever was combined with two more White Sox errors that led to an 8-3 defeat by the Tampa Bay Rays and a 3-5 homestand that followed a 3-7 road trip.

Making it that much worse is that the White Sox need to step up their game in the wake of so many April injuries, not regress in areas that were a supposed strength.

The bullpen is still top-notch, but a lack of run support has left it pitching in tight games each and every night, and things haven’t always gone the Sox's way in such circumstances. Nate Jones was tagged with the loss Sunday, the bullpen’s sixth loss this season. Only the Toronto Blue Jays and their eight bullpen defeats have more in the American League.

“We’re looking at what you have here and what’s available, and you go from there,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You try to win games right now not waiting and looking in the future. Guys are playing hard and this is one of those that is probably a work in progress of trying to figure that out and who’s playing and who’s doing what. But again, you try to make due and make sure everybody is giving a constant effort. That’s all you can ask.”

Ultimately, it all goes back to that ineffective offense. Adam Dunn, whose struggles have been mighty in the early going, continued to show signs of life with a first-inning RBI single. Team leader Paul Konerko added a two-run home run.

Everybody else, though, was an easy target for Rays starter David Price, who snapped a streak of five starts without a victory. His last truimph came Sept. 30 of last season, against the White Sox.

The White Sox have already used the disabled list six times in the first 24 games, an extreme worst-case scenario for a club that lacks not only roster depth but in potential breakthrough prospects at the minor league level.

Tyler Green (second base), Conor Gillaspie (third base) and Dewayne Wise (center field) all filled in for injured players Sunday and were a combined 1-for-10.

“I don’t sense anybody looking around saying we can’t win with what we have,” Konerko said. “I think the only time you think about those guys is when you see them. I think every team is going to have that little span during the season where it seems like every day somebody’s going down. Hopefully, this is ours right now and we start getting guys back and we’re kind of over that and it’s done with and some other team’s going to have to deal with that in August or September, maybe.”