There's just not enough room for everyone.
The White Sox have a decision to make in the coming week with veteran starter John Danks' anticipated return from the 15-day disabled list and a possible start on Friday. Someone in the rotation must move to the bullpen, and in all likelihood it will be either right-hander Dylan Axelrod or left-hander Hector Santiago.
Axelrod could potentially be making his last start in the rotation on Monday, when the White Sox host the Red Sox in the opening game of a three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field. He's pitched exceptionally well at times, enough to warrant a spot in many teams' starting rotation. But if there's one thing Chicago has right now, it's starting-pitching depth, and that could spell problems for Axelrod in the near future.
Santiago was lights out in his first two starts since entering the rotation but struggled against the Twins on May 13 and only lasted 3 1/3 innings in Anaheim on Saturday after he surrendered three early runs. The start on Saturday might have hurt Santiago's case for the fifth spot when Danks returns, and Axelrod has a chance to prove himself worthy on Monday.
"You have to get to one point before you get to another," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "For me they're both in the rotation right now and you figure it out when you have to make that decision."
Axelrod will look to improve on his last start, when he picked up the win in a 9-4 Chicago victory over the Twins on Wednesday but allowed three runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. He'll have the luxury of pitching in front of his home crowd, something the White Sox haven't had the opportunity to do much of recently. Monday's game will mark the end of 15 road games in 18 days for Chicago and will start a stretch of 17 of its next 23 games at home, including two across town at Wrigley Field.
"We feel like we've been on the road for quite a while," Ventura said. "It's nice to be home but it's better if you play better at home, that you enjoy being at home and winning games."
Axelrod will oppose Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, who is 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA on the season. Lester followed his one-hit shutout of the Blue Jays on May 10 with a seven-inning performance against the Rays on Wednesday, when he allowed two runs and struck out five.
Lester has held opponents to a .193 batting average and has pitched well on the road, going 3-0 with a 3.48 ERA away from Fenway this season.
If the White Sox can top Lester with Axelrod on the mound, Ventura's job could become easier when he has to make a decision late next week.
White Sox: Dunn plays through pain
Adam Dunn had to leave Saturday's game in Los Angeles with back spasms, but he convinced Ventura to allow him to play on Sunday. The White Sox designated hitter was stretching his hamstrings in the on-deck circle on Saturday, and something pulled in his back when he came up.
Dunn remains day-to-day with back soreness, and the White Sox want to keep his bat in the lineup right now. He was 8-for-25 with 10 RBIs on Chicago's seven-game road trip.
Red Sox: Bailey returns
Closer Andrew Bailey is set to return to the big league club on Monday after making a final rehab appearance with Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday. The inning he pitched in the outing didn't go so well. He gave up a home run to former Major Leaguer Brett Carroll and also surrendered a double, but retired the other three Indianapolis hitters he faced.
Boston manager John Farrell said Bailey had no setbacks during the appearance and is ready to be activated off the 15-day disabled list. Bailey had been nursing a right biceps strain since May 6, and the Red Sox said he is set to meet the club in Chicago for the start of the series.
• With their 3-1 win over the Twins on Sunday, the Red Sox have tied their second longest winning streak of the year at five. Their longest streak is seven, which they set from April 13-20.
• The Red Sox bullpen combined to throw 9 1/3 scoreless frames during its three-game series at Minnesota.
• White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham went 2-for-4 with three runs scored on Saturday in his first rehab start with Triple-A Charlotte. He's been on the disabled list since April 10 with a fractured left hamate bone.
Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.