GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox switched things up on Wednesday, assigning left-hander John Danks to pitch in a minor league game and sent lefty Eric Stults to face the Seattle Mariners in Peoria.
The Sox, who play at Seattle on April 20-22, prefer not to match starters against teams they will face during the regular season. Jake Peavy, in line to face the Royals on Thursday, will face Texas Rangers minor leaguers instead. Zach Stewart will get the start against the Royals.
Danks pitched six innings, threw 96 pitches and gave up four runs (three earned).
"I'm getting there,'' said Danks, who struck out seven and walked one while allowing a home run. "I'm not where I need to be. A lot closer than I was a couple of weeks ago. I'm on pace. I think I'll be ready. It was a good day today.''
Stults, 32, gave up two runs in four innings, finding a nice rhythm after the first.
He had not allowed a run in five innings over four spring appearances. He has a chance to make the Opening Day roster in one of the three bullpen spots that are open, possibly four if Jesse Crain's strained right oblique doesn't heal.
"I feel like I put myself in a good situation,'' Stults said after his outing. "I feel like I can go either way for them, whether they need a starter or reliever. I feel like I got that flexibility. They're going to do what they feel is best for the team. Whether I'm in the plans or not, I'm going to continue to go out there and when they give me the ball, give them quality innings."
Crain felt better about his prospects, however, after throwing 20 pitches from in front of the mound, then 12 on the mound on Wednesday morning.
"Definitely a step forward," Crain said. "A big step forward coming from where I've been."
"It starts off kind of tight so you don't know how it's going to feel so you kind of work through that. And it loosened up a little bit.''
Crain is now planning to throw an extensive bullpen session on Friday.
"I didn't go 100 percent. I got off the mound and I was throwing strikes, throwing all my pitches. You know, it was a big step forward, especially coming from where it felt the last couple of days. I think it's something that day by day it will get better.
"I imagine we will throw a real hard pen and if all goes well there, hopefully I'll be ready for a game.''
Stults pitched 12 innings for the Colorado Rockies last season. He started 10 games for the Dodgers in 2010, going 4-3 with a 4.86 ERA. He is 8-10, 4.93 over 157 innings in his career.
Right-handed prospect Terry Doyle, whom the Sox lost to the Twins in the Rule 5 draft, was returned to the Sox and will report to Class AAA Charlotte.