Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

February 2013 Archives

Gillaspie, Konerko homers help keep White Sox unbeaten

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Conor Gillaspie and Paul Konerko each hit two-run homers, prospect Simon Castro pitched three innings of one-hit ball and the White Sox defeated the the Texas Rangers 8-4 on Wednesday, staying unbeaten through five games for the first time since they joined the Cactus League in 1998.

The White Sox improved to 3-0-2 while dropping the Rangers to 0-5. Gillaspie drove in four runs against Texas on Tuesday with a triple and single. He was acquired by general manager Rick Hahn in a trade with the San Francisco Giants, helping shore up third base and adding a needed left-handed bat to the roster.

Castro, whom former GM Ken Williams picked up in a trade for All-Star outfielder Carlos Quentin after the 2011 season, struck out three and walked none. He gave up no runs.


Leaner frame feels good on Thornton

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Adam Dunn warned Matt Thornton about his leaner frame when he showed up at spring training, comparing him to CC Sabathia.

The huge Yankee seems to do OK for himself, heft and all, Dunn said. So why sweat being big? Thornton was never soft to begin with, and Dunn says players play with fire when they try to be somebody they aren't. When Thornton came up with a tender elbow last week, Dunn said 'I told ya so.'

Thornton, who came to camp 22 pounds lighter, is pleased to report his elbow is fine. The 36-year-old lefthanded reliever threw 40 pitches of uninhibited live batting practice Wednesday.

"Oh yeah, I let everything go,'' Thornton said. "I threw everything I had and as I went along I amped up the intensity and let 'em go. Got out there real good and had no problem at all.''

The 6-6 Thornton's weight loss is mostly due to a change in diet. His body has a different feel, and it's one he likes so far.

"I feel great with that,'' he said. "It's like no limitations at all. My body's getting out good and I'm getting great extension on my pitches. We'll see what kind of dividends it pays later in the year but right now I feel great physically.''
Thornton remains on schedule to pitch in a game on March 5.

Another good session for Danks

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- John Danks threw his second outdoor batting practice session on Tuesday, this one 50 pitches, and will throw a bullpen Monday before pitching in his first game on March 4.

Danks, the White Sox 2012 Opening Day starter who missed most of the season because of a shoulder injury that required surgery, worked mainly on his cut fastball.

"My health, we all kind of agree that I can move on and start worry about pitching and a little less about the health of my shoulder,'' Danks said after his session. "We're pretty confident that is behind us now and I can just build up arm strength.''

Danks said he's getting stronger with each throwing session.

"We were a lot more focused on the breaking ball, the cutter especially,'' he said. "And it's still got a ways to go,but it's coming. Other than that, I felt good. I feel like I'm getting more behind the ball each time out.''

Another day, another tie for White Sox

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For the second day in a row, the White Sox played to a tie in a nine-inning Cactus League game. Monday's game against the San Francisco Giants ended at 9-9 after the Sox rallied from a 9-0 deficit.

Seth Loman, a minor-league first baseman, hit his second homer in three games, a three-run shot in the Sox' seven-run eighth inning to tie the score.

Sox starter Hector Santiago gave up three runs in two innings. Prospect Andre Rienzo, who will pitch for Brazil in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, faced five batters without getting an out and was tagged for five runs.

Left fielder Dayan Viciedo left the game after getting hit by a pitch on the left elbow. The elbow was heavily wrapped but Viciedo said he is OK. Lefthander Leyson Septimo left the game in the ninth inning with a minor leg injury. He appeared to be favoring his left hamstring.

Sox relievers Matt Lindstrom, Jesse Crain, Addison Reed and Nate Jones each pitched a scoreless inning. Septimo pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

The Sox are 1-0-2.

Keppinger's ankle holding up

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As infielder Jeff Keppinger works his arm into playing shape, he'll be the designated hitter for the second day in a row when the White Sox play at the World Series champion San Francisco Giants on Monday afternoon.

Keppinger is expected to play third base on Tuesday, manager Robin Ventura said. The Sox signed him to a three-year, $12 million deal in the offseason to be the primary third baseman this season after he suffered a hairline fracture of his right fibula from a fall at his home.

The ankle setback prevented Keppinger from getting his arm in shape for spring training, and he's working through some soreness in his throwing shoulder. The ankle, which he keeps taped, "is holding up good,'' Keppinger said Sunday.

"I''ve been doing a lot of strengthening to it and it's holding up fine,'' he said. "I haven't had any swelling. All activities have been full go to do. I haven't had any set backs with the ankle.

"I'm sure I'll be out there in a few days. It's basically just building up my arm, being able to throw the ball across the infield. I wasn't able to push off pretty much until I got down here so I've had two weeks to start throwing. I'm on a throwing program, so as soon as I get it up strong enough then they're going to throw me out there. Since we're down here early there was really no rush to try to get it in super fast.''

The ankle isn't 100 percent yet. Keppinger feels it when he takes a secondary leadoff and pushes back to the base. Coming out of the batter's box is fine, he said.

"I haven't had any problem with swelling so that's the main issue. Once you get the swelling in there it makes it hard to move and the flexibility goes away. The flexibility has been good and it's been strong so it's doing all right right now.''

Keppinger, who batted second on Sunday, will hit third Monday with Alex Rios (and Adam Dunn) not making the trip to the game after morning workouts. The Sox' Monday lineup: Alejandro De Aza CF, Brent Morel 3B, Keppinger DH, Paul Konerko 1B, Dayan Viciedo LF, Alexei Ramirez SS, Jared Mitchell RF, Tyler Flowers C, Carlos Sanchez 2B. Hector Santiago P. Also slated to pitch: Addison Reed, Nate Jones, Donnie Veal, Jesse Crain, Matt Lindstrom, Leyson Septimo.20130216_103004-2.jpg

White Sox, Dodgers end in tie; Dunn homers

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning in the White Sox' Cactus League game against the Los Angeles Dodgers that was called with the score tied 2-2 after nine innings.

With Alex Rios on third with a triple, Dunn homered against Peter Moylan, an opposite field shot to left. It was his first homer of the spring for the Sox, who won their opener 9-0 against the Dodgers on Saturday.

"[It was good to] kind of get some stuff going,'' Dunn said. "I just happened to go 3-2 [in the count] and that last at-bat I was just going to try to get a pitch and the location I was looking swing at it."

A day after Tyler Flowers homered in the Sox opener, manager Robin Ventura was glad to see Dunn get his first out of the way early.

"You know, it's nice to get those,'' Ventura said. "If it lingers on too much, not having good at-bats, you are starting off battling from the negative. It's nice for everybody to kind of get on the board and have a good at-bat. It feels nice to end your day that way too.''

Dunn was also happy to see quick results from a minor adjustment he's made in his swin.

"There's one little mechanical thing I wanted to work on, and I didn't know how long it was going to take me this spring,'' he said. "I knew we had an extended spring. But actually I'm able to carry it over from the cage to the game so far. That's a positive."

Erik Johnson pitched three innings as the Sox starter, allowing one run.

Why batting third was uncomfortable for Dunn

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Alex Rios batted third again Sunday against right-hander Zack Greinke, another indication manager Robin Ventura plans to use him in the third slot this season.

An advantage to having Adam Dunn bat third last season was having a lefty in the box setting a screen when leadoff man Alejandro De Aza attempted to steal. However, Dunn has always been distracted by movement on the bases when he hits, so batting fifth behind Paul Konerko might suit him better.

"It's one of those things,'' Dunn said. "My whole life, I'm so locked into the pitcher that whenever I see somebody move, especially with like two strikes, my eyes go straight to the runner. Obviously on a 3-2 count they're probably going to be running so you have it in the back of your mind. I'd rather have them on second, obviously.''

With Rios on third Sunday, Dunn hit an opposite field homer to left-center field against Peter Moylan. Dunn has talked with De Aza and others about his thing about runners on the move, just so they know.

"If they're going to go, go kind of go early in the count,'' he said. "There were a couple of times with two strikes I'd either freeze up or just wail at one I normally wouldn't.''

If Dunn hits with Konerko, one of the slowest runners in baseball, on first, he can relax.

"Probably don't have to worry about that too much,'' Dunn said.

Dunn batted fourth Sunday after batting fifth behind Konerko on Saturday against lefty Clayton Kershaw. Konerko had the day off Sunday.

Thornton throws bullpen, says he feels fine

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Thornton, who had a temporary setback Tuesday with discomfort in the back of his left elbow and triceps area, threw all of his pitches in a 35-pitch bullpen on Sunday morning and came away feeling "great.'' He remains on his normal throwing schedule.

"Aside from being numb from the cold and wind ... everything felt good,'' Thornton said. "Got my work in till I felt like I was starting to fatigue and shut it down.''

Thornton is scheduled to pitch in a game for the first time on March 5, as originally planned.

White Sox rout Dodgers in Cactus League opener

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Tyler Flowers homered in his second at-bat, third-place hitter Alex Rios hit a double down each line, and Dylan Axelrod pitched three strong innings as the White Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 in their Cactus League opener on Saturday afternoon.

The Sox banged out 14 hits and scored a run in each of the first two innings against Dodgers ace lefty Clayton Kershaw. Gordon Beckham doubled in a run against Kershaw and Dayan Viciedo singled in two runs in the third inning.

Axelrod struck out four, walked none and allowed one hit. Facing mostly Sox pitching prospects, the Dodgers had three hits.

Flowers, who has the unenviable task of making fans get over the loss of fan-favorite A.J. Pierzynski, downplayed the homer to left field against Stephen Fife, which Beckham called one of the hardest hit balls he's seen.

"It was an OK at-bat,'' Flowers said. "I had a couple of not-good takes and didn't really see it really well except for a couple of pitches. The result is good but there is definitely more work to be done.''

Axelrod, who started seven games last year, knows making the team will be tough.

"We're very deep,'' he said.

The two teams meet agains Sunday at Camelback Ranch.Sox right-hander Erik Johnson, ranked by Baseball America as the Sox' No. 4 prospect, gets the start against Zack Greinke. Only prospects are slated to pitch for the Sox.

Danks certain he'll be on Opening Day roster

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. - After throwing live batting practice on Saturday morning, John Danks declared himself ready for Opening Day.

It was only Feb. 23, and Danks had trouble snapping off decent breaking pitches, but he said he has no doubts he'll be on the 25-man roster that breaks camp in five weeks.

"I don't know what number [in the rotation] but I have no doubt I'll be there on the Opening Day roster,'' Danks said. "It's not my job to make the order of the rotation, but I definitely see myself being in the first five this year.''

I likely number is fifth in the rotation, which would pit Danks against the Mariners on April 6. Danks will make his first Cactus League start on March 4.

A popular school of thought has Danks, who had shoulder surgery in August, not being rushed into action and joining the rotation a few weeks into the season. Danks, who barked out Jake Peavy style in frustration after a few of his pitches, would flunk out of that school.

"I've said all along patience is not one of my virtues,'' he said. "It was the breaking ball and I had trouble making the cutter do what I wanted it to do. But the most important thing is I felt good and I'm feeling better each time out. So that's a positive thing.

"It was a positive day; it's coming. I feel like I'm throwing a little harder. The breaking ball left a little to be desired but that's not uncommon for this time of year.''

While acknowledging the newness of going through a rehab process, Danks said he is pushing the envelope pushing forward, "but I have to rely on Herm and Coop and the doctors to make sure I'm where I need to be.

"They're happy where I'm at and see that I'm improving,'' Danks said.

Rios batting 3rd in White Sox Cactus opener

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Here's the lineup for the White Sox' Cactus League opener on Saturday (2 p.m., 670-AM) against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch:

De Aza CF, Morel 3B, Rios RF, Konerko 1B, Dunn DH, Viciedo LF, Ramirez SS, Flowers C, Beckham 2B.

Scheduled to pitch: Axelrod, Gray, Heath, Purcey, Rodriguez, Septimo, Omogrosso, Stewart.

Jeff Keppinger has a sore shoulder and will sit out. Manager Robin Ventura said he plans to use him as the DH in the next two games.

White Sox acquire third baseman Gillaspie

| 3 Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. - The White Sox acquired left-handed hitting third baseman Conor Gillaspie from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for minor-league right-hander Jeff Soptic on Friday. General manager Rick Hahn, who has been looking for a left-handed bat, views Gillaspie as a complementary player to third baseman Jeff Keppinger.

Gillaspie, a 25-year-old Giants first-round sandwich pick in 2008, took only 96 days to reach the majors but hasn't played to the initial high expectations. He batted .281 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI in 108 games for AAA Fresno last season and played in six games with the Giants, going 3-20 with two RBI.

"He conceivably fits in nicely on the roster, which we'll obviously decide more about toward the end of next month,'' general manager Rick Hahn said. "But we see him having a solid hit tool, above-average awareness of the strike zone, solid defensively. He gives us a little versatility in his ability to play third base as well as first. He gives Robin some options potentially.''

In five minor league seasons, Gillaspie owns a .287 average, .358 on-base percentage and has 37 homers and 259 RBI in 514 games.

Hahn said Gillaspie "has a good recognition of the strike zone, is able to get on base, work the count a bit. Although he's not your prototypical power guy at third base he does spray the ball around pretty well and has a nice line-drive approach, which should play well in our park.''

Hahn said Gillaspie grades out as "solid average.''

"He was I think mildly knocked a bit for that earlier in his career when he first got pushed up,'' Hahn said. "But it has progressed and our scouts like what they have seen in the last year-plus from him.''

Soptic, 21, was 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 27 relief appearances with Class A Kannapolis in 2012. The Sox drafted him in the third round in 2011.

To make room for Gillaspie on the 40-man roster, the Sox designated infielder Lars Anderson for assignment. Anderson was claimed off waivers from Arizona on February 1.

Asked what the trade means for third baseman Brent Morel, who has looked healthy this spring and is attempting to re-establish himself after dealing with a back injury last season, Hahn said, "Let's see how the next several weeks unfold. We haven't even played our first Cactus League game to then start saying this guy's in or this guy's out is way premature.

"There's an element of competition now for the infield positions and Brent's a part of that. Brent has looked good, Brent has looked healthy. He's swinging the bat well. He's moving around well. The key is let's continue with that and we'll figure out the roster when the time comes.''

White Sox agree to terms with 25 players

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

News and notes from White Sox camp:

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox agreed to terms on 2013 contracts with 25 players, including left fielder Dayan Viciedo for $2.8 million, All-Star left-hander Chris Sale for $600,000 and closer Addison Reed for $520,000. The others will earn the league minimum or slightly more based on service time and performance.

Also signed on the 40-man roster: Pitchers Jose Quintana, Dylan Axelrod, Hector Santiago, Donnie Veal, Simon Castro, Deunte Heath, Nate Jones, Charlie Leesman, Jhan Marinez, Nestor Molina, Brian Omogrosso, Andre Rienzo, Santos Rodriguez and Leyson Septimo; catchers Tyler Flowers, Hector Gimenez and Josh Phegley; infielders Brent Morel and Angel Sanchez; outfielders Jordan Danks, Jared Mitchell and Blake Tekotte.

Viciedo, who becomes a free agent in 2017, made $2.5 million last year.

Also:

Center fielder Alejandro De Aza will play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. "It's a great feeling to go there and be a part of it,'' De Aza said. "That's a special thing.''

*Reliable right-hander Dylan Axelrod, who made seven spot starts in 2012, starts the Cactus League opener Saturday against the Dodgers. "Things can change quickly,'' Axelrod said of his fluid status. "I don't look at things too in-depth and play that game. It's tough to figure things out so I just try to do the best I can. I have faith something will happen for me down the road and I'll be ready.''

White Sox lefty Thornton resumes throwing

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Thornton (elbow tendinitis) planned to play catch Thursday, will do so again Friday and throw a bullpen on Saturday and perhaps throw live batting practice on Monday.

The 36-year-old left-handed reliever described the MRI taken Tuesday as "over-the-top precautionary'' and said he expects to take his scheduled turn to pitch in a Cactus League game on March 5.

"I'm fine,'' Thornton said. "I'm worried about April 1. That's all I care about. I don't care if I get two or three games in somehow if something else happens and I'm ready for [the opener].''

White Sox' Adam Dunn: Big dude debuts on big screen

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If you're 6-6, 285 pounds like Adam Dunn, the big screen seems like a good fit.

Movie buffs will decide for themselves when the White Sox designated hitter's bit part in "Dallas Buyers Club," starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto and Steve Zaun, is unveiled this summer.

Dunn wasn't exactly giving himself rave reviews on Wednesday from the Sox training camp.

"No, I'll never be an actor,'' Dunn said. "That would be a negative.''

Dunn plays a bartender who has speaking lines in the film.

"We took like 20-something takes each time. I haven't seen the final product, so keep your fingers crossed. Hopefully, I made it.

"It was fun. I didn't realize how much work goes into a production like that. It was cool. It was fun. Those guys put in some long days."

McConaughey plays a character who is fighting AIDS.

"To see those guys in action, that was probably the coolest part of it," said Dunn, who did the filming in New Orleans. "To see how intense, how in-character they are 24-7. To be a good actor, I guess that's what it takes, so I'll never be a good actor."

Dunn got involved in the film with former AA minor league pitcher Joe Newcomb, a friend who has a stake in production of the movie.

"It's probably going to be pretty awesome.''

White Sox announce 2013 broadcast schedule

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Here is the White Sox' press release announcing their broadcast schedule for the 2013 season:

White Sox Media Relations

The White Sox, Comcast SportsNet, WGN-TV, WCIU-TV, WSCR-AM 670 The Score and 97.5 FM ESPN Deportes have announced the team's television and radio broadcast schedules for the 2013 season.

Comcast SportsNet (CSN) will televise 99 regular-season games, beginning with Opening Day on Monday, April 1 against Kansas City at 3:10 p.m. CDT. CSN also will air games of the first interleague series at the reigning National League East Division Champion Washington Nationals, beginning on Wednesday, April 10 at 6:05 p.m.

WGN is scheduled to broadcast 30 Sox games again this season, beginning with the club's second game of the year on Wednesday, April 3 vs. Kansas City (1:10 p.m.). WCIU will begin its 25-game schedule on Friday, April 5 vs. Seattle at 7:10 p.m.

Seven White Sox games are scheduled to be broadcast nationally as part of the FOX Saturday Baseball "Game of the Week" package, beginning April 20 vs. Minnesota (2:05 p.m.). ESPN will air the White Sox vs. Angels game on May 12 as part of its "Sunday Night Baseball" schedule with coverage starting at 7:05 p.m. Additional Sox games may be added to the ESPN and FOX slates later in the season.

All CSN, WGN, WCIU, ESPN and FOX telecasts will once again be available in high definition. Game times and television networks are subject to change.

Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Steve Stone, entering their fifth year together in the White Sox television booth, will call 154 regular-season games on CSN, CSN+, WGN and WCIU. The seven games scheduled for Comcast SportsNet Plus (CSN+) will be available on CLTV in the Chicagoland area. Viewers in other areas should visit CSNChicago.com for specific channel locations. The first CSN+ telecast is scheduled for Saturday, April 6 vs. Seattle (12:10 p.m.).

WGN will air the first game of the crosstown series vs. the Cubs on Monday, May 27 at U.S. Cellular Field at 6:10 p.m. CSN will broadcast the second game of the two-game set on Tuesday, May 28 at 7:10 p.m. When the series moves to Wrigley Field, WGN will broadcast the first game (Wednesday, May 29, 1:20 p.m.), while CSN will air the series finale on Thursday, May 30 (1:20 p.m.).

WSCR-AM 670 The Score, the White Sox flagship radio station, will broadcast all 162 games. The on-air duo of former Sox pitcher Ed Farmer (play-by-play) and former outfielder Darrin Jackson (color commentary) returns for its fifth season in the radio booth.

For the second consecutive year, 97.5 FM ESPN Deportes, Chicago's first commercial FM radio station devoted to continuous Spanish language sports coverage, will broadcast all 162 games. All home games will air live from U.S. Cellular Field. Hector Molina (play-by-play) and Billy Russo (color commentary) will return as the Spanish radio team.

White Sox Thornton "not worried at all" about elbow

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Matt Thornton downplayed the left elbow discomfort that kept him out of drills on Tuesday, saying Wednesday he has no concerns and will throw again in two days.

"I'm not worried about it at all,'' Thornton said Wednesday morning. "We have time to back off a little bit and there's no reason to throw through discomfort on Feb. 19. I'm not worried about it one bit. Just trust [trainer] Hermie [Schneider] to get me right and it will be no problem. I'll be throwing in a couple days here.''

Thornton said the issue is in the back of the elbow and triceps area of his left arm.

"Achy, balky, whatever you want to call it,'' he said. "More than likely the process of throwing every day for a week. Try to get it under control and it won't be a problem the rest of the year.''


MRI on Thornton's elbow shows inflammation, no damage

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The injury bug bit the White Sox for the first time in camp Tuesday. Left-hander Matt Thornton was held out of drills with a sore elbow. Thornton underwent an MRI which showed some inflammation but no structural damage, manager Robin Ventura said.

Ventura described the 36-year-old reliever's issue as "discomfort.''

"He just said it didn't feel right,'' manager Robin Ventura said. "We have so much time it's just safer to slow him down and get him out of drills, make sure he's comfortable with it.

"You're concerned every time a guy has that. I don't know what level it's at but the beauty is you can give him this time off and he can catch back up if there's nothing wrong with him.''

Thornton had Tommy John surgery in 2003. The only time he was on the disabled list with the White Sox was with left elbow inflammation during the 2010 season.

Outfielder Dewayne Wise had a stiff neck, so he was kept out of drills. He said he'll be ready to go Wednesday.

Rios, Dunn on White Sox order: Whatever works

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Alex Rios wouldn't mind staying in the No. 5 spot in the White Sox batting order. He had success there in 2012, so why mess with a good thing.

Rios has no qualms about batting third, though, as manager Robin Ventura has suggested might happen. The left-handed hitting Adam Dunn batted third last season, maybe not the ideal spot for a low-average hitter [.204 with a .333 on-base percentage thanks to 105 walks]. Ventura said it wouldn't hurt to space out Dunn and leadoff man Alejandro De Aza, his only lefties unless Dewayne Wise is playing.

"If you have success in a spot in the lineup you might not want to change that, but I might actually be better off third with [Paul] Konerko and Dunn behind me because I might get better pitches,'' Rios said.

"I really don't mind. I've always felt that hitting is the same in any spot.''

The same goes for Dunn.

"Yeah, whatever. Makes sense [to switch it up],'' Dunn said. "It's never been a big deal to me. Other than not getting an extra at-bat every once in a while, that's about the only difference.

"I don't care. They don't have to tell me. I'll hit anywhere.''

Rios agreed that it might make sense to have his speed in front of Konerko and Dunn.

"Those are guys who are going to drive the ball,'' Rios said. "With people who can move on the bases, that might help us to score more runs, I don't know.''

White Sox' Ramirez: My game is not going to change

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


GLENDALE, Ariz. - Free-swinging Alexei Ramirez got this far by being who he is, so manager Robin Ventura doesn't expect his shortstop to become a selective hitter overnight.

Good thing.

"My game is not going to change,'' Ramirez said. "But I'm aware I need to hit the ball the other way a little more and try to do that. But my game is not going to change."

An improvement on the 16 walks he settled for after drawing 51 in 2011 would be nice, though. While driving in 73 runs and batting .265 after hitting .269 with Ramirez 70 RBI in 2011, Ramirez saw his on-base percentage drop 41 points to .287. He scored 59 runs after scoring 81 and 83 the previous two seasons.

"You can put [being more selective] into his mind but that's how he got here -- being aggressive,'' Ventura said Monday. "You can tweak that to a certain extent but I don't see him all of a sudden talking a bunch of pitches and walking 60 or 70 times a year.''

Ventura said the 31-year-old Ramirez, who is entering his sixth season in the major leagues -- all with the Sox -- can be a better hitter, though, by using more of the field.

"You can move it around,'' Ventura said. "He got to a point last year where he was pulling the ball only and was susceptible to offspeed stuff. And when he did have spurts when he was going well he was going the other way and covering the strike zone better.''

Ramirez, who played through a sore left wrist which bothered him for much of the second half to get on the field for 158 games, was not happy with his performance in 2012. He had career lows in average, homers, walks, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.

"What happened last year, I learned from it,'' the 2010 Silver Slugger Award winner as the American League's top-hitting shortstop said. "It's more of an experience for me and I feel very good and I don't think it's going to happen again."

Dunn motivated by White Sox' fade

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. - The White Sox 4-11 finish that knocked them out of first place still eats at Adam Dunn. It was long ago, but not forgotten.

"I don't think we have,'' Dunn said on the Sox' first full-squad workout day. "I hope we haven't. You work so hard during the offseason, during the season, putting yourself in a great position and obviously we had some injuries but we just didn't play well when it mattered. That's tough for me and I would assume it's tough for everybody in locker room.''

Dunn has never played in the postseason. He had to have liked his chances when the Sox led the Detroit Tigers by three games with 15 games left in the American League Central.

"I'm sure everybody's going to say start over with a clean slate but I don't want to forget about last year,'' he said. "That's something, I want to remember how it felt basically getting knocked out of first place because I know I didn't like it very much and I don't want it to happen again. You work so hard to put yourself in the position we were in and just to let stupid things happen. Little stupid injuries here and there. We just didn't play well at the end.''

Dunn led the American League with 222 strikeouts and 105 walks in 2012. If he follows through on taking the different approach he's talked about, look for both numbers to drop in 2013.

Dunn often walked away from at-bats kicking himself for letting hittable pitches go by early in counts.

"That's going to be an emphasis this spring, trying to be more aggressive, not get myself too deep into counts,'' Dunn said Sunday, "instead of being so selective early -- especially on the first pitch.''

Dunn's .204 average was 36 points below his career mark. His .333 on-base percentage was .37 points below his career norm. Manager Robin Ventura is OK with the walks dropping as long as the hits increase.

"That's the way I would like to see the equation,'' Ventura said. "You get more hits, especially the way they play him with the shift. Go ahead and take the hits to the left side.

"You want him to be more aggressive. For a guy like him there is something about hitting earlier in the count instead of taking pitches that are close or just off. Athletically, he has the ability to expand the zone a little. We're not talking about expanding the zone and swinging and missing, you're talking about being a little more aggressive, going out of the zone and make contact.''

Dunn faced 157 full counts last season and led the majors in pitches per plate appearance with 4.43.

Rios: Mechanics, not mood, turned him around

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. - While Alex Rios' splendid bounce-back 2012 season coincided with Robin Ventura's arrival as manager, the White Sox right fielder downplays the correlation.

Ventura's calming influence in the clubhouse may have helped Rios and Adam Dunn recover after their woeful performances in 2011, but Rios said the biggest difference was the change in his stance and some mechanical tweaks in his swing. Ventura did create a mellower atmosphere after taking over for the more feisty and talkative Ozzie Guillen, but that wasn't a factor in getting turned around, Rios said.

"I wouldn't say that because I don't think attitudes in the clubhouse affect an individual's performance,'' Rios said Saturday. "Attitudes are important to the team as a whole, but not individuals so much. I just made some adjustments that made me a better player and made me have the season that I had. Mechanical changes were the key to the success.''

Standing more upright in the batter's box helped Rios put up numbers that made him the Sox most valuable player in 2012: A .304 average with 25 homers, 91 RBI and 23 stolen bases. He ranked among the top ten in the American League in triples (eight), average with runners in scoring position (.348), extra-base hits (70), hits (184), total bases (312) and slugging percentage (.516).

Rios had a similar season in 2010, only to fall off drastically in 2011, so he avoids discussing expectations in spring training.

"In spring training, I always come with a lot of optimism,'' he said. "I don't set goals because I don't believe it helps you to do better. I just try to perform at the highest level I can every day. But yeah, I feel pretty good. I feel as comfortable as I've ever felt so I feel like I'm in a good place.''

White Sox' Danks feeling fine the morning after

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- John Danks was in good spirits Friday morning, the day after his first bullpen session of camp.

"I was able to get through an upper body workout just now, so I guess that's a good sign,'' Danks said. "I won't know until I go out there and throw for a while. So far, so good."

Danks was heading to the fields to play catch and take part in pitchers fielding practice drills. He hasn't pitched in a game since late May and is recovering from left shoulder surgery in August. While battling through shoulder problems last year, Danks would feel good on the mound only to deal with issues the following day.

"Yeah, that was one of the biggest problems before surgery was the ability to bounce back,'' Danks said. "It's just another level, being able to bounce back and fit in again."

Danks will throw off the mound again on Sunday.

"There's no need to rush it,'' he said. "Feeling good."

Danks pleased after first session

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It was only the first side session off the mound, and there is a long ways to go till April 1, but John Danks couldn't have asked for better results.
The shoulder felt good, he threw his four pitches where he wanted and there life on the ball coming out of his hand.
"Real good, John Danks!" an equally pleased pitching coach Don Cooper said as Danks threw about 40 pitches Thursday morning.
"It felt real good,'' Danks said shortly after finishing up and having the shoulder iced. "It's encouraging to be able to go out there and throw all four pitches and feel good after. I don't know exactly how many pitches I threw but I feel good about things. It's obviously the first one but it's good to get out there.''
After signing a five-year, $65 million contract extension, Danks replaced Mark Buehrle as the Opening Day starter last season but he didn't pitch after he beat the Cubs on May 19. Danks had arthroscopic surgery Aug. 6 to repair a capsular tear and minor debridement of the rotator cuff and biceps.
"I obviously felt like it was going be good. This isn't the first bullpen I've thrown but this was as intense or more intense than any one that I have had so far. I'm pleased with how it went,'' Danks said.

Ventura wants extension talks later rather than sooner

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Robin Ventura politely declined an offer from the White Sox to have his contract extended during the offseason, saying he'd rather wait till his three-year deal is over after the 2014 season to think about his future as White Sox manager.

"It was flattering and nice and everything but in talking to [general manager] Rick [Hahn], we have two more years to do this,'' Ventura said. "This is my contract and I was the same way as a player. I'll worry about it at the end of it. In two years, I want them to think I'm the right guy for the job.

''It wasn't anything that was a big deal. I'm not holding out for anything or disappointed or not wanting to stay here. Again, at the end of that is when you talk about it. I'm not worried about trying to extend anything right now. I'm worried more about this team in spring training now than 2015.''

Ventura was given a three-year deal to replace Ozzie Guillen before last season.

"To Robin's credit, he wants to make sure he's the right guy for the job,'' general manager Rick Hahn said.

"It's a testament to how special he is with his approach to this position and the job at hand.''

Hahn said the perception that Ventura took the job on a temporary basis is not accurate.

"If that's the vibe people are taking that's inaccurate. My hope is that Robin is here for a long, long time.''

White Sox' Sale shrugs off 'Verducci effect'

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While endorsing Jake Peavy to be the Opening Day starter, Chris Sale beamed at the thought of taking the ball himself.

"That would be crazy,'' Sale said Tuesday, as White Sox pitchers and catchers reported to spring training. "I would be speechless if it came to that. But as I've said before if anyone deserves that it's Peavy. He's the leader of the team and our pitching staff and he has the resume to do it. We all have our faith and trust in him and he's our guy.''

Sale was 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA in his first year as a starter. He was generally regarded as the ace last year, when he threw 192 innings and made 29 starts. This year he wants to make 30 starts or more and pitch 200 innings.

"That's kind of the benchmark for everybody, make [30] starts and throw 200 innings and be a reliable pitcher,'' Sale said. "I don't put expectations on anything, just try to live it day by day and whatever comes up.''

Sale shrugged off "the Verducci effect,'' a non-scientific look by Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci at the risk for pitchers after a big innings jump. Last year, Verducci identified 14 young pitchers coming off workload increases of 30 innings or more. Nine were either injured or regressed performance-wise: Derek Holland, Dylan Axelrod, Jaime García, Liam Hendricks, Eric Surkamp, Chris Schwinden, Daniel Hudson, Zach Stewart and Michael Piñeda.

Sale tops his list this year.

"You have to pay attention to your body,'' Sale said. "I don't keep that stuff in mind at all. I don't think about going out there and blowing my arm up or anything like that. Obviously it's a long season and you're throwing a lot. You have to make sure everything is intact and moving right. Pay attention to your body and know what's going on and how it feels on a given day and know when enough is enough and when you can throw some more.''

Manager Robin Ventura has said Sale will be eased through spring training, which is longer than usual because of the World Baseball Classic.

"I felt like I learned a lot last year, not just about myself but about baseball and the game in general,'' Sale said. "I know how my body feels and stuff like that but I have a better feel for situations and different things that come up during ballgames. It's a learning experience. You're always adjusting, so keep your mind open and see what works.''



New Ranger Pierzynski 'not looking back'

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

SURPRISE, Ariz. - With a familiar No. 12 stitched to an unfamiliar blue Texas Rangers jersey hanging at his locker, A.J. Pierzynski described his first day on his new job as "bittersweet.''

After eight years with the White Sox, including a World Series championship in 2005, Pierzynski had hoped to stay for at least a couple more. But the White Sox were fixed on letting him walk in free agency and giving the No. 1 catcher's job to a younger Tyler Flowers.

"I can't be disappointed. There's no reason to be disappointed,'' Pierzynski said. "I know it's a business and it wasn't meant to be. I'm excited about the new opportunity here and the chance to come to a team that definitely has a team to be very competitive with a goal of going to the playoffs and I'm looking forward to that, not looking back at what happened.''

Pierzynski, 36, has dabbled in broadcasting and would seem to have a future in it after his playing days are over, perhaps with the Sox.

"We'll see. It takes two to want to do that,'' he said. "I know they had different plans this winter and we'll see what happens in the future. After winning a World Series there and having the years I had there, especially the way the fans treated me and people of Chicago in general, it's a special place and every time I go back there I'll look forward to it. But as far as that goes, I'm a Ranger now and I can't wait.''

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who has always regarded Pierzynski as one of his favorite players, released a praise-filled statement after Texas signed Pierzynski for one year. That was much appreciated.

"Of course. I'll always appreciate what Jerry did for me and will always have a special place in my heart,'' Pierzynski said. "It was nice but it's over.

"Obviously when I signed here it was bittersweet because I had been someplace for a long time but knowing Texas wanted me from day one, that was nice. When you walk into a new clubhouse, it's a big step and a big difference. But it's nice to look up and see a couple people I know - Neal Cotts and Jason Frasor and some other familiar faces. It helps a little but it's always a little awkward walking into a place after you've been someplace for so long. You kind of get lost trying to figure out where everything is but that's part of it. I'll learn fast and go from there.''

Asked if he believes Flowers is prepared to handle whatever pressure may come with the job and replacing a fan favorite, Pierzynski said, "You'll have to ask him. I don't know anything. I wish him nothing but the best. I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about Texas and myself. I'm not worried about what goes on over there.

"He's a good kid. Has a chance to hit some homers. He'll be fine. It's his job to go in there and win the job and be the No. 1 guy on opening day. If he does what he's capable of doing he'll be fine.''

Harrelson, Stone "get it all out on the table"

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Ken Harrelson admits that "something was wrong" in the White Sox broadcast booth during the last season and a half but is confident the chemistry between him and partner Steve Stone will be better this season.

On ESPN-1000's "Talkin' Baseball" show Saturday, Harrelson said "a big meeting" at SoxFest including Stone, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, vice president and chief marketing officer Brooks Boyer and senior director of business development and broadcasting Bob Grim helped clear the air.

"We got it all out on the table and when we walked out of the meeting I felt great and Steve did too,'' Harrelson said. "Everything is going to be fine between Steve and myself. We've always had a terrific relationship. The last year and a half it hasn't been where it has been in the past. Now it's where it should be because we knew there were some problems and you know me, if there's something out there that I'm not easy with I'm going to get it out. And we talked it over and we'll get back to where we were in 2009 and '10.''

White Sox executives were concerned that the sometimes tense mood in the broadcast booth did nothing to project a fun and appealing atmosphere at U.S. Cellular Field.

"I have never worked with somebody I haven't enjoyed working with,'' Harrelson said. "I think last year was one that gave me a little more angst because Steve and I had such a good relationship. And now that it's back I can say with confidence it's back. The end result is the fans will enjoy what they saw before.''

White Sox acquire first baseman Lars Anderson

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

The White Sox claimed 25-year-old first baseman Lars Anderson from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Anderson, rated as the Red Sox' No. 1 prospect in 2009, had one hit in eight at-bats with Boston last season. At AAA Pawtucket he batted .259 with nine home runs and 52 RBI. Anderson was traded to Cleveland on July 31 and finished the season with Class AAA Columbus.

In 30 career games over three major-league seasons with Boston, Anderson is 8-for-48 (.167) with four RBI.

Anderson was sent to Arizona in a five-player trade in December and designated for assignment on Jan. 24.

The Sox have a need for a left-handed bat but are set at first base with Paul Konerko and left-handed hitting Adam Dunn. The Sox 40-man roster is now full.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2013 is the previous archive.

March 2013 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.