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Poor finish leaves Sox with decisions to make

Questions to be answered

White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy will be a free agent this off-season. His future is one of many decisions looming for the team.
AP White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy will be a free agent this off-season. His future is one of many decisions looming for the team.

General manager Ken Williams didn't seemed worried about where the White Sox will get innings from their starters in 2013 with the possibility of Jake Peavy leaving to free agency and John Danks recovering from left shoulder surgery.

"One of the biggest questions moving into this offseason will be how many left-handers can you have in your rotation," Williams responded Wednesday night before seldom-used Dan Johnson hit three home runs to pace a five-homer attack in a 9-0 victory over the Indians. "It's a pretty good problem to have."

Gavin Floyd, who could become a free agent if the Sox don't pick up his $9.5 million option for 2013, pitched seven innings of three-hit ball that concluded the Sox's 85-77 season.

"I've been here in Chicago a while and it would be nice to stay here," Floyd said. "It's really up to them."

What seems less certain is the return of third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who cited family reasons as his main criteria for dictating where he would play.

"My family is always going to come first from here on out," said Youkilis, who married earlier this year and became a father for the first time last month. "Now that I have a family, whatever the best fit for them is. You have to attend to your family first and foremost, and baseball is second. Every decision I make from here on out is through my family."

The Sox are expected to decline the $9 million option on Youkilis, a Cincinnati native who resides in Los Gatos, Calif. The Sox have earmarked about $65 million to seven players for 2013 – not including the options on Peavy ($22 million), Floyd and Youkilis.

Peavy is expected to attract interest from several teams, including the Dodgers. Youkilis has been scouted by the Phillies, and the Rockies and Padres have followed the Sox closely in September.

The Sox were not helped by declining attendance that didn't increase revenue. Youkilis cited the economy as one reason for the lack of large crowds.

"It's very surprising to see with us winning that we were still second fiddle to the Cubs," said Youkilis, who played in front of passionate, sellout crowds in Boston for 8 1/2 seasons. "I thought we had a lot of fun and brought a lot of enjoyment to the fans. There was a great fan base that was there. It seemed like the same people who showed up every night to cheer us on, the die-hards."

Williams wouldn't elaborate on the role of Brent Morel, the Sox's starting third baseman at the start of the season who was nagged by back problems and didn't play with the Sox after May 17.

"I can't answer that question without seeing him on the field in spring training," Williams said.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski's career-best season that included 27 home runs and 77 RBIs might be too pricey for the Sox to afford. They will have to decide whether Tyler Flowers would flourish better as a full-time player after hitting seven home runs in 52 games while striking out 56 times in 136 at-bats as a reserve.

"It's different when you are playing once a week," manager Robin Ventura said. "And all that stuff, we are going over."

2012 in review

Record: 85-77 (2nd in AL Central)

Batting average leader: Alex Rios, .304

HR leader: Adam Dunn, 41

RBI leader: Adam Dunn, 96

W-L leader: Chris Sale, 17-8

ERA leader (starters): Chris Sale, 3.05

Key stretch: Lost 11 of final 15 games to fall out of first place for forst time all year with 8 games to play.

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