Jake Peavy’s health is closely monitored and Mark Buehrle’s recent Michael Vick comments garnered national headlines. Then there’s the non-feud between Buehrle and John Danks, who led the team in all major pitching categories in 2010, over who should be the opening day starter.
Jackson and Floyd don’t mind the lack of attention, but their performances in the middle of the rotation are vital to a team that finished six games behind Minnesota in the American League Central last year.
“My job is to get out every fifth day and give our team the chance to win a game, regardless of whether or not my name is out in the media,” Jackson said. “And that’s what I do.”
Floyd finished 2010 with a 10-13 record and a 4.08 earned run average. He started with a 6.64 ERA and two wins in his first 11 starts, then put together a 1.19 ERA over his next 12 starts. He was shut down for the final two weeks of the season due to shoulder tightness, the effects of which he said have completely disappeared.
Pleased with his perseverance last year, Floyd hopes to achieve success a little earlier time around.
“You always say you want to get off to a good start but a lot of things in baseball are out of your control,” he said. “It’s a test of a guy’s character, so you just work your butt off and try to do your best.”
The White Sox offense provided fewer than four runs of support per game when Floyd took the mound last year, but the re-signing of Paul Konerko and the addition of slugger Adam Dunn leads Floyd to believe things might be a little different this season.
“It can be a double-edged sword. You can get comfortable and not concentrate as much,” he said about potential run support. “Still, deep down you know it’s nice to get a big number up there early. You just need to keep your focus and go as long as you can.”
He was acquired from the Diamondbacks at the trading deadline last year, filling a vacant spot in the rotation after Peavy underwent season-ending surgery.
Jackson allowed just three runs in his first four starts and finished with a 4-2 record and 3.24 ERA. He struck out at least 10 batters in three consecutive starts in August and often worked deep into games to take some of the burden off the bullpen.
“That’s the game,” Jackson said of his midseason turnaround. “I could have come in here and done just as bad. It’s just one of those things in baseball. Sometimes change brings better outcomes in people.”
With help from pitching coach Don Cooper, Jackson noted that there was a slight tweak in mechanics that helped him look like the pitcher who won 27 games combined in 2008 and 2009.
“It was just a small adjustment that I got away from and somehow picked up a bad habit and it kind of got away from me,” he said.