TUCSON, Ariz. – John Danks was all giddy about making the start on Wednesday, because the wind at Tucson Electric Park was blowing in.
Maybe in right field, but as the White Sox lefty found out in the first inning, not left.
Troy Tulowitzki hit a solo home run off Danks in the two-run Colorado first inning, but was solid after that, allowing just three hits and another unearned run in two innings of work. He also had three strikeouts.
Offensively, the Sox got on the board in the second when Josh Fields picked up the RBI single.
After his outing, Danks was not only thrilled to wear the Northern Illinois University cap in memory of the five students killed at the campus earlier this month, but pleased with the cutter he has been working on since late last year.
“Obviously it was a tragedy, and being in Illinois, everything that happens there, we feel we’re connected to it,’’ Danks said of the team honoring the school.
As far as the cutter and the results?
“It was great,’’ Danks said. “Better than I thought it would be for the first time out. The pitch Tulowitzki hit out, I felt was the best pitch I threw. He just got it up in the jet stream up there.’’
There seemed to be more news off the field on Wednesday than on, however.
-- For the second time in eight years, a Jeff Berry represented player refused to sign off on his one-year contract, forcing the Sox to renew the deal and set the 2008 salary by next week.
Pitcher Mark Buehrle was the last to make that decision, before it was announced that Josh Fields chose that path on Wednesday.
“It’s something that I don’t really think matters right now,’’ Fields said. “It’s no disrespect between us and the Sox. It’s not like I’m trying to say, ‘I want more money,’ because I can’t afford to do that. They can say, ‘Go back to [Class AAA] Charlotte.’ ’’
Buehrle seemed to make a bigger deal of it when he went through it, while the understated Fields was in more of the downplay mode.
“Ultimately, it was my decision,’’ he continued. “Everyone understood where we stood. It’s something a player can decide to do.’’
There is a reason behind why Berry advises players to do it, however.
Basically, if the two sides ever do get to an arbitration hearing, the player and his camp can say, “Hey, we’ve been unhappy with our salary even back when.’’
Fields is coming off a year in which he became the everyday third baseman when Joe Crede was sidelined with season-ending surgery. In 100 games, he hit .244 with 23 home runs, 67 RBI and 125 strikeouts.
--Besides Fields, the Sox announced that 21 players agreed to terms on their one-year contracts, headlined by John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Bobby Jenks, Danny Richar, Brian Anderson, Jerry Owens and Carlos Quentin.
And while Jenks told the Sun-Times last month that he was looking to get a contract extension leading into this season, he had no problem with the decision that was made to possibly revisit talks following the ’08 campaign.
“That’s between the front office and my agent,’’ Jenks said. “I worry about what I do on the field and let them take care of the rest.’’
--Richar arrived into camp six days late, after his visa problems were cleared up. The infielder will be battling Juan Uribe and Alexei Ramirez for the starting job at second base.
“When I was at home I was worried,’’ Richar said. “I was telling myself, ‘Oh, those other guys are there working out.’ But I’m here and now I have to show that I’m ready, and was working out in the Dominican.’’
--As far as the injury front, Owens was a late scratch from the Cactus League opener, as his groin is still not game ready, while reliever Matt Thornton remained a few days behind because of left elbow soreness that slowed him at the start of camp. Thornton is expected to be ready by Sunday, while Owens is day-to-day.