12-man staff likely; Humber steps in

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Phil Humber, who after signing a minor-league free agent deal in December found a good pitching groove this spring, will fill the void left by Jake Peavy and likely be one of 12 pitchers on the White Sox’ opening-day roster.

Humber will get Thursday’s start against the Cubs, pitching coach Don Cooper said Sunday night, and is the likely fifth starter penciled in for April 6 in Kansas City.

“We’re going to have him ready to start if necessary during the season until Jake is ready,” Cooper said on 670-AM’s “Mully and Hanley Show” Monday morning. “Because of that we’ll probably look into taking 12 [pitchers]. Sounds like a good idea to me because we’re going to need that 12th guy.”

Whether the Sox would take 11 or 12 pitchers was one of the few question marks surrounding their opening-day roster.

Peavy, attempting to break camp with the team after having surgery to re-attach a torn lat in July, has rotator cuff tendinitis and will be shut down for probably the rest of spring training and into the regular season. The Sox said the tendinitis is separate from the lat issue.

“This is not a killer blow,” Cooper said. “We weren’t even anticipating prior to spring training Jake being ready. We’re going to be able to get Philip Humber to be an effective guy for us.

“Hey, give us six innings … and turn it over to the bullpen. We have a good bullpen with three lefties so we can make it a shorter game.”

Humber, a former No. 3 overall draft choice, has been considered a strong candidate to make the team as a long reliever. With another spot open in addition to Humber, Jeff Marquez’s chances of making the team improved. Australian Shane Lindsay and Gregory Infante are also in the picture. Like Josh Kinney, they have had good and bad outings this spring. Marquez, acquired from the Yankees in the Nick Swisher trade, has pitched with more consistency, giving up two earned runs in 9 1/3 innings (1.93 ERA).

Humber has allowed three runs (all earned) in 11 innings this spring (2.45 ERA) with only one walk while striking out six.

Peavy was considered a long shot to break camp going in. The setback surfaced a day after manager Ozzie Guillen said he was expecting the former Cy Young winner to make the team.

“I don’t consider this a major blow,” Cooper said. “Nobody knows exactly what it is. We’ll quiet him down and see where it goes.”

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