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with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

March 2013 Archives

Chris Sale excited for Opening Day -- 'Who isn't?' he says

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Chris Sale will make his first Opening Day start on Monday. AP PHOTO

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the White Sox against the Kansas City Royals on Monday (3:10 p.m.).

After the Sox' Sunday workout at U.S. Cellular Field, Sale talked to media about his first Opening Day start. Here's what he had to say.

On his level of excitement going into the game:

"Yeah, who isn't? I think everybody associated with baseball, likes baseball, is a fan of baseball, is excited for tomorrow.''

On being a Florida guy pitching in the cold:

"Once you get out there, it's fine. You get a little adrenaline going and kind of get caught up in the moment of what you are doing and you are not really focusing on the wind or how cold it is and you just gotta get your mind right and pitch like it's any other day. It might be a little bit colder but I probably won't notice that too much.''

On the Royals, who won 12 of 18 games against the Sox last season and are improved going into this year with the acquisition of pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay. Shields will start for KC Monday:

"We had our battles with them last year. You always want to start out on the right foot, especially with an in-division rival and get the season started on the right foot as well.

"Yeah, you get them right out of the gate. It will be good to set the tone. Set the tone for not only our series against them but for the year. Get started on the right foot.

On why the Royals matched up so well against the Sox:

"Well, they are a good team. They are free-swinging team that makes contact with the ball. They have some guys over there that can hit. They've added some great pitching too. It's not going to get any easier but we didn't expect it to be any easier. We are going to go at it bull by the horns and give it everything we got.''

On proving people wrong about where the Sox will finish. Almost everyone is picking the Tigers to win the division and predicting the wild card teams to come from the East and West divisions.

"You know, I wouldn't say we are trying to prove them wrong but we are trying to prove ourselves right. We are not worried about I guess what you guys write or what anyone else has to say about us. We believe in ourselves and I'll drop a Florida Gulf Coast [his college, which reached the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA basketball tournament] here.
"Nobody expected them to win anything. They didn't have a big bandwagon or fan base to start with and if you believe in yourself, that can take you a long way. We all believe in ourselves and each other and we are going to get this thing going and get it going the right way.''

On being a leader

"You kind of break it down. Jake is the leader of our pitching staff and Paul [Konerko] and Dunner [Adam Dunn] and those guys with the position players and Jesse [Crain] and [Matt] Thornton down there in the bullpen. We have good veteran guys around younger guys in every aspect of our lineup and then our pitching staff.
"What better way to have those guys here teaching us the right way and the way to not only be a good baseball player but a good teammate and good person as well.''

On friends and family attending the game Monday:

"I got 8. In-laws, my parents, wife and the little guy. It will be fun.''

Tough to handle the excitement, anticipation of the moment?

"Yeah, I feel like I've got myself to a pretty good place right now. Just kind of looking at this as any other game. There's a little bit of hype around it being as the first one and it's Opening Day. It still counts as one. If I go out there and win 10-0, it's still 1 in the left column and visa versa to one loss. Just another game and go after it like it is.
"Yeah, it will be exciting. I'm just kind of going out there and being another pitcher. That's what I think every starting pitcher strives for, be another guy to go out there and have them rely on you and not have to hold back innings limit or pitch count limits. Just go out there and be the pitcher that I am. Go out there every fifth day and give it everything I've got for however innings.''

On what Opening Day means to him:

"It's exciting. I was very excited for it. It's kind of nerve-wracking at times because obviously with everything going on all this excitement and hoopla. But I'm very proud and very honored to be the guy to start Opening Day and to get the first one out there and bring it back as a win.''

For the fans: White Sox info for Opening Day

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Paul Konerko will make his 13th straight Opening Day start at first base. AP

From White Sox media relations

The White Sox are making the following recommendations to fans attending Opening Series games against the Kansas City Royals:

* First pitch of Opening Day, presented by U.S. Cellular, is Monday, April 1 at 3:10 p.m.; the second game of the series is Wednesday, April 3 at 1:10 p.m.; and the series finale is Thursday, April 4 at 1:10 p.m.

* There are a limited number of standing-room-only tickets available for Monday's home opener. These are the only tickets remaining for the game and are only available at the U.S. Cellular Field ticket office. Tickets for the remainder of the opening series are available at the White Sox ticket office at U.S. Cellular Field, online at whitesox.com and through Ticketmaster phone lines at (866) SOX-GAME.

· Fans should only purchase tickets through authorized White Sox ticket agents. Purchasing tickets through the White Sox ticket office, whitesox.com, Ticketmaster or Stub Hub are the best ways to guarantee valid purchases.

* The White Sox strongly recommend that fans utilize public transportation. The CTA Red Line stops near the ballpark at 35th Street, and the Green Line is two blocks further east at 35th Street.

* There also is a Metra stop at 35th Street, just east of the Dan Ryan Expressway, along the Rock Island line. Metra will increase its service on game days to accommodate White Sox fans. For the most up-to-date game day service information including weekend inbound train schedules to meet the various scheduled first pitch start times, check metrarail.com.

* Gates to the ballpark open two hours before the start time of the Opening Day game and one and one half hours before the games on Wednesday and Thursday.

· The Bacardi at the Park restaurant near Gate 5 of U.S. Cellular Field is again open this season. The restaurant will be open to the public on Opening Day at 5 a.m., with media outlets broadcasting live from the venue. Coffee, soft drinks and donuts will be served until 7 a.m. when regular food and beverage service will commence. Fans wishing to attend the broadcasts should park in Lot A. Bacardi at the Park will open four hours prior to first pitch on the day of all home games throughout the season.

· The Miller Lite Bullpen Sports Bar will open one and one half hours before game start on Opening Day with B96 broadcasting live from 10 am-2 pm. Throughout the regular season, the Miller Lite Bullpen Sports Bar will open two and one half hours before first pitch of Saturday - Sunday games and one and one half hours before games on Monday - Friday (limited to the first 500 fans 21 and over).

* Parking lots open three hours before the start time of the Opening Day game, while they will open two hours before the start of the games on Wednesday and Thursday. Fans holding reserved parking coupons should display the coupons prominently as they approach the ballpark.

* Prepaid red coupons are accepted in Lots A, B, C and G, and prepaid green coupons are accepted in Lots F and L only. Cash parking will be very limited when lots open (Lots G, F and L; Lot A in the early morning only). Fans seeking cash parking should follow directional signs to available lots. Cash parking is $20 Monday - Saturday and $10 on Sundays.

* Fans planning to park and take the CTA downtown to work in the morning can park in Lot A (cash parking) starting at 5 a.m. This option is for fans returning to the ballpark for the game. Lot A is accessible from Wentworth Avenue between 33rd and 35th Streets. Tailgating will not be allowed in Lot A on Opening Day until three hours before the start of the game, when the rest of the parking lots open.

* Free shuttle service will be available on Opening Day from parking lots at 31st Street and Moe Drive (ONLY if all cash lots are filled at the ballpark).

* Fans holding tickets for the upper level will not be able to access other levels of the ballpark. This policy ensures fans may safely and comfortably enjoy the game with access to the areas of the ballpark where they bought tickets.

* In accordance with the Illinois law, smoking is prohibited in all areas of U.S. Cellular Field. There is a designated smoking area outside of Gate 2 and Gate 5. Those fans wishing to smoke must proceed to the ground level at the base of the ramps at Gate 2 and Gate 5.

· White Sox magnetic schedules and rally towels will be given to all fans in attendance on Opening Day, courtesy of U.S. Cellular.

* Lot B at Gate 5 of the ballpark is designated for cars displaying state-issued disability placards or license plates. In addition, any guests in need of assistance will be allowed by ballpark personnel to be dropped off and/or picked up in Lot B. Fans will have access to Lot B and Gate 5 (located north of the ballpark; across 35th Street) via 33rd Street.

* Alcohol cannot be taken from the park or consumed on public ways, in observation of city regulations.

* Finally, the White Sox ask fans to be respectful of the neighborhood and homes surrounding the ballpark before and after games.

White Sox roster set

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White Sox manager Robin Ventura's 25-man roster is set. AP PHOTO


The White Sox set their major league roster by making six moves after Saturday's exhibition game against the Brewers:

Optioned right-hander Brian Omogrosso to Class AAA Charlotte;
Reassigned catcher Bryan Anderson, infielder Josh Bell, right-hander Jeff Gray, right-hander Ramon Troncoso and infielder Steve Tolleson to minor-league camp.

With the moves, the White Sox Opening Day roster will include 12 pitchers: Starting pitchers Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Jose Quintna and Dylan Axelrod; relief pitchers Hector Santiago, Matt Thornton, Donnie Veal, Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom, Jesse Crain and Addison Reed; bench players Dewayne Wise (outfield), Conor Gillaspie (corner infield, outfield), Angel Sanchez (infield) and Hector Gimenez (catcher).

The expected Opening Day lineup:

Alejandro De Aza CF
Jeff Keppinger 3B
Alex Rios RF
Adam Dunn DH
Paul Konerko 1B
Dayan Viciedo LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Tyler Flowers C
Gordon Beckham 2B

 

           

 

 

Will White Sox' Paul Konerko hit 30 homers? Bet on it

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The over-under on Paul Konerko's homer total for 2013 is 29½. AP PHOTO


Here are Bovada's over-under odds on individual statistics for the White Sox for the 2013 season, which gets under way Monday:

Paul Konerko: Total HR's 29 ½.
Paul Konerko - Total RBI 92 ½
Adam Dunn - Total HR's 33 ½
Adam Dunn - Total RBI's 90 ½
Alexei Ramirez - batting average .275
Gordon Beckham - batting average .250
Alex Rios - Total HR's 20 ½
Dayan Viciedo - Total HR's 25 ½
Jake Peavy - Wins 12 ½
Jake Peavy - ERA 3.50
Chris Sale - Wins 14 ½
Chris Sale - Strikeouts 205 ½

Axelrod: Nod as 5th starter 'has been a dream of mine"

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As a guy who has been up and down between the White Sox and AAA Charlotte the last two seasons, Dylan Axelrod enjoyed the moment Wednesday. On the last day of camp, cameras and microphones captured his reaction to being officially named the team's fifth starter to open the season.

"It's a great feeling,'' Axelrod said. "I've been working towards this for a long time. It's been a dream of mine to be a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. So getting a great opportunity obviously. I'm going to try to run with it.''

Axelrod, who as recently as 2009 was pitching for the Windy City Thunderbolts of the Independent League, got his break when John Danks wasn't ready to start the season with the Sox. Danks will stay in extended spring training building arm strength as he recovers from shoulder surgery.

The 27-year-old Axelrod was in the business-of-baseball place of needing a teammate to fall short of a goal to meet one of his.

"I feel like I did a good job of that,'' Axelrod said. "I really just let it go. I just decided to do my best and however it turned out, it turned out. I think I was proud of myself for not looking into things. I did a good job of like just being me and not looking over my shoulder.

"I'm just thinking about going out every fifth day and being accountable to be ready and being someone that's reliable and can compete. I don't know what's going on. I'm just going to go do my job and not think about it.''

Axelrod will start the fifth game against the Seattle Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field next Saturday.

He made seven starts for the Sox last season and has been groomed for the role as a backup plan in case Danks wasn't able to begin the season with the team. The Sox said last week that Danks would go on the disabled list, and they placed him on the DL Tuesday retroactive to March 22.

"He's going to be the fifth guy for right now and then, you know, see how he does,'' Ventura said.

Hector Santiago, a left-hander, was also considered a candidate and was told to be prepared to start if needed, especially if the Sox match up against a team that is weaker against lefties.

"Having the options with Axe and Santiago, that gives you a right and left-handed option that you can conceivably play matchups with at some point if you wanted,'' general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday.

But Ventura said the job will be Axelrod's for at least a while.

"You could [mix and match] but I'd like to see how he does,'' Ventura said. "Give him a run at it and see what he can do. I don't want him throwing every pitch thinking this will cost him next week or the next five days. Let him go out and pitch and we'll figure it out after that.''

"Yeah, that's nice to hear,'' Axelrod said. "I feel comfortable having a routine and having that assurance definitely helps. Knowing that I'm going to start every fifth day or what have you. Not going back and forth between the starting rotation and bullpen, I think will benefit me with my routine.''


Ventura makes it official: Axelrod is White Sox' fifth starter

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura said right-hander Dylan Axelrod will start the fifth game of the season against the Seattle Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field next Saturday.

Axelrod made seven starts for the Sox last season and has been groomed for the role as a backup plan in case John Danks wasn't able to begin the season with the team. The Sox said last week that Danks would go on the disabled list as he continues to build arm strength after having shoulder surgery in August, and they placed him on the DL Tuesday retroactive to March 22.

"He's going to be the fifth guy for right now and then, you know, see how he does,'' Ventura said.

Hector Santiago, a left-hander, was also considered a candidate and was told to be prepared to start if needed, especially if the Sox match up against a team that is weaker against lefties.

"Having the options with Axe and Santiago, that gives you a right and left-handed option that you can conceivably play matchups with at some point if you wanted,'' general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday.

But Ventura said the job will be Axelrod's for at least a while.

"You could [mix and match] but I'd like to see how he does,'' Ventura said. "Give him a run at it and see what he can do. I don't want him throwing every pitch thinking this will cost him next week or the next five days. Let him go out and pitch and we'll figure it out after that.''

GM Hahn says White Sox have enough to make postseason

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - General manager Rick Hahn was amused last spring when a scout said the White Sox "might lose 100 games.''

He knows his team, which will fly out of Arizona Wednesday for Chicago, will be picked by most to finish behind the favored Detroit Tigers in the American League Central this season. Many prognosticators will peg them for third- or fourth place. Hahn's not seeing it.

"I honestly don't worry too much about whatever publications put out, whatever the projections are for this year,'' Hahn said Tuesday "We care a little more about what we see and what we project in terms of our performance and how we match up, and we feel confident about being in this thing till the end. We fully intend and believe we're capable of making the postseason regardless of what any projections have.''

The Kansas City Royals improved over the offseason and played like gangbusters this spring. The Cleveland Indians also made improvements -- more than the Sox - during the winter. Hahn takes the optimistic view of that, seeing competitive balance working in the Sox favor

"They're certainly right in saying that Detroit is the cream of the crop in this division and is the team we're all hunting,'' Hahn said. "I also feel this division is more competitive this year and because of that nobody will run away and hide from anybody.''

White Sox place Danks on disabled list

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- As expected, White Sox left-hander John Danks was placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 22) to continue his recovery from left shoulder surgery.

Danks is staying in Arizona for extended spring training to pitch in minor league games to build up arm strength. He had surgery in August and pitched in four Cactus League games without much success.

"Danks, there's really not a time frame on,'' general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday. "He's going to stay back here on extended, make a couple starts here, and as he continues to feel better and mechanically is in a good spot, he'll head out on a rehab assignment (at AAA Charlotte). It could be a couple weeks, it could be longer. It's based on how John feels and how the ball is coming out of his hand.''

Left-hander Leyson Septimo was placed on the 15-day DL with a left shoulder strain and lefty David Purcey was reassigned to minor-league camp. The Sox have 31 players left in major-league camp.

Rios says back improved, hopes to play by weekend

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While downplaying the significance of his stiff low back, Alex Rios still felt soreness Tuesday but said he plans on playing on one of the two White Sox' two exhibition games in Milwaukee.

If not then, for sure by Opening Day against the Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field, Rios said.

"There's nothing. There's just pain,'' Rios said. "There's nothing to be worried about. I think it's just going to take time to heal."

If it does take time, that would be something to worry about depending on how long. Rios seemed to be walking somewhat gingerly in the clubhouse Tuesday morning but kept a smile on his face a day after having an MRI that he said was clean. Rios said the back felt better and "looser" Tuesday morning.

"It was easier to get out of bed and do some stuff,'' he said. "But certain moves, I still feel a little pinch but I should be fine."

General manager Rick Hahn said Rios is on pace to be ready for Opening Day.

"I'm going to be ready," Rios said.

Bo Jackson to throw out first pitch at White Sox opener

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Bo Jackson, the former White Sox outfielder and designated hitter who is generally regarded as one of the best athletes of all time, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at U.S. Cellular Field on Opening Day.

Jackson, who played on the 1993 American League West champion Sox, was designated the "Greatest Athlete of All Time" by ESPN's Sports Science. Jackson homered against the Yankees at Comiskey Park in hirst first at bat of the season in 1993 after he returned from hip replacement surgery. On September 27 of that season, he hit a three-run home run against the Seattle Mariners at Comiskey Park to help the White Sox clinch the division title.

The opener against the Royals on Monday starts at 3:10 p.m.

Rios leaves camp to have back examined

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Downplaying the significance of a lower stiff back that has kept him out of the lineup for three days, Alex Rios was scratched from the lineup Monday morning and was on his way to get looked at by a doctor.

"I'll be fine,'' Rios said. "I've had this before in my career. It's just normal, regular [stiffness]. I was working out and it just happened.''

Rios was expected to have an MRI done.

"I'm going to get it checked out. I should be fine,'' he said. "I've had this before, I know the feeling so I don't think there is anything we have to worry about.''

The Sox have three games left in Arizona and two in Milwaukee this weekend in advance of Opening Day on Monday against the Kansas City Royals.

Asked if he needs to play in a game before the opener, he said, "I think I've got a lot of work done. I probably need to do a little maintenance now and then.''

Crain, Ventura encouraged by pitcher's outing

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - Jesse Crain tested his right adductor in a minor league game and was more upbeat afterward than he was after his last outing.

The White Sox will likely wait till Wednesday, the team's last day in camp, to decide whether he goes with them to Milwaukee for two exhibitions before the Opener on April 1. It hasn't been ruled out.

"My leg didn't act up, I didn't feel anything,'' Crain said. "It felt good, I feel like it was a step forward for sure.''

Crain did not allow a run and struck out two. Seventeen of his 20 pitches were strikes. He will pitch in a game Monday and if that goes well, again on Wednesday.

Manager Robin Ventura said the cold weather in Chicago won't be a factor in the decision.

"If he's healthy, he would be the first one you'd want to go to,'' Ventura said. "We're trying to win games. If he's ready and able, he's going to be on there.''

As eager as Crain is to go North with the team, especially after dealing with two oblique issues and a shoulder last season, he'll be understanding if he's held back on the side of caution.

"I've been around long enough to know you want to be there for most of the season, you don't want to push it and jeopardize the rest of the season,'' he said.

Crain must heal in hurry to be ready for opener

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Ramon Troncoso owns an 8-8 record and 3.92 ERA in 175 career games with the Dodgers.


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Right-handers Ramon Troncoso and Brian Omogrosso, or possibly Jeff Gray, come on down.

An Opening Day roster spot will likely be open for one of them because White Sox reliever Jesse Crain's right adductor (groin) isn't getting better. Crain pitched in a minor league game Wednesday and battled through it. He left the Sox spring training complex before talking to reporters, and returned Thursday morning to share disappointing news.

"It got tight and ended up being swollen," Crain said. "I threw about 10-12 more pitches, flipping it in there. From the first 10 pitches to the last there's a pretty big difference of velocity. Hopefully it's part of the process of getting it stronger. Maybe it's something that's good for about 10 pitches, then just got about tired.''

Crain has pitched in one exhibition game because of the injury, which flared up three weeks ago. He was encouraged after his previous outing. And then came Wednesday's "frustrating" development.

"As of right now, [the discomfort] is still there," he said.

"It's hard because the only way I can tell where I'm at is if I'm pitching. That's the only time I can re-activate that motion."

Crain acknowledged that the disabled list is a possibility to start the season. That makes two pitchers the Sox had hoped to have with them breaking camp but won't. They decided Wednesday to have John Danks work in minor league games and open the season on the DL. Danks had shoulder surgery in August and needs time to build arm strength.

Crain said the groin feels OK until he tries to go 100 percent in game situations.

"Flat ground and the pen, for the most part, is good,'' he said. "At least yesterday it was. Until I get out there in the game and 100 percent trying to throw, it's hard to reenact that motion, so only way I can test it is when I do that. Now I'll try to give it a rest a day or two and then go at it again and see if it can last longer, at least."

White Sox' Axelrod likely headed to rotation

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dylan Axelrod has prepared all spring for the possibility of being a fifth starter in the White Sox rotation. That possibility looked more like a reality when the Sox said they would move John Danks to minor league games for now and have him start the season on the disabled list.

Axelrod or left-hander Hector Santiago are the primary candidates to take the fifth start, which would be against the Mariners on April 6 at U.S. Cellular Field. Axelrod, who made seven starts last season, said he'll be ready if called on. Ventura said Wednesday he was leaning toward Axelrod.

Axelrod said he's ready for the assignment.

"Absolutely. I keep saying I come in every day and committed to being ready and improving every day," Axelrod said. "I've been getting my pitch count up, so physically I'm ready and very excited if that turns out the way it is and I'm ready to get after it."

New food offerings at U.S. Cellular Field

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The Bull Sandwich

Here is the White Sox release on food offerings at ballpark this year:

Building off of the already unique food offerings at U.S. Cellular Field, the Chicago White Sox will debut an expanded menu for fans on Opening Day, Monday, April 1.

"Each year, we listen to our fans and strive to improve our services based on their feedback," said Brooks Boyer, White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing. "We consistently work to offer White Sox fans a variety of fresh and new retail and concession items at U.S. Cellular Field, and this year is no different."

Sportservice, the official retail and concession operator of the White Sox, will feature their new menu offerings on the ballpark's 100-level and 500-level. Fans can look forward to enjoying the following new concession items:

* Bull's BBQ: Named and created by longtime fan favorite and member of the 1983 "Winning Ugly" White Sox, Greg Luzinski, this sweet bbq pork certainly will be offered at the two BBQ locations (sections 151 and 531) in the ballpark.


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* Comiskey Burger (above: A staple in all true Chicagoans' diets, the Chicago Dog has now been incorporated into a cheeseburger fresh off the grill. The burger will be sold as a double or triple cheeseburger topped with "Chitown Pico", a relish salsa creation made with all the Chicago Dog ingredients (sport peppers, green relish, diced tomato and onions) topped with celery salt. The Comiskey Burger will be featured at the two Burger Barn locations in the ballpark (sections 113 and 529).

* Walking Taco: This new food item consists of a bag of Fritos served with stadium nacho cheese, chili and a fork. The Walking Taco can now be found in the big leagues in sections 110, 164 and 544.
* Meatball Sandwich: A Chicago favorite, the meatball sandwich will be served on an Italian roll with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese in sections 121 and 522.
* New Beer Offerings: In section 112 there will be a new Craft Beer location featuring Henry Weinhards, Batch19, Third Shift and Blue Moon Agave Blonde Ale. The Miller Lite Bullpen Sports Bar also will feature Third Shift, Redd's Apple Ale and Blue Moon Agave Blonde Ale. All will be available in the new souvenir Miller Lite Bullpen Sports Bar pilsner glass. Adding to the local offerings, Ebel's Weiss from Two Brothers Brewery, a Chicagoland local brewery, and Leinenkugel's Canoe Paddler will be available at the Midwest Brews Locations in sections 155, 141, 109 and 530.
* Juice and Milk: Apple Juice and 2% milk will be available for purchase in sections 130 and 529.

Fans enjoying the Club Level, Diamond Suite or Stadium Club experience at U.S. Cellular Field can enjoy Levy Restaurant's newest menu items including:


* Winning Ugly Grand Slam: In honor of the 1983 White Sox, a grand slam of Italian beef, Italian sausage patty, pork chop and bacon covered with giardiniera, sautéed onions and peppers on eight inch muffalatta bread (Club Level).
* Pepper-Glazed Goat Cheese Spread: Savory warm, sweet-spicy goat cheese dip, served with pita chips and toasted baguette slices (Diamond Suites and Stadium Club).
* South Side Double Steakburger: Two 1/3 lb. custom blend steakburgers with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and secret sauce on a brioche bun (Club Level Concessions); and in the stands fans can also get crinkle fries to complete the burger experience.
* Tuna, Chicken and Egg Salad Sandwich Trio: A Chicago deli style plate with caraway rye, pumpernickel and assorted rolls served with pickle spears (Diamond Suites).

· Rip and Dip: Delicious four cheese garlic bread served with marinara and ranch dipping sauces (Club Level and Stadium Club).

· Eleven City Diner Bloody Mary: A local favorite makes a debut at U.S. Cellular Field as this signature drink is added to the line-up.

White Sox' Rios makes sandwiches for Subway customers

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Hours before playing in the World Baseball Classic championship game in San Francisco, White Sox right fielder Alex Rios made a surprise appearance at a Subway restaurant in town. Not for the purpose of grabbing a foot-long with a bag of chips to go, but to make sandwiches for customers.

Wearing his Puerto Rico baseball jersey, Rios teamed with Jared the Subway Guy and "The Official Training Restaurant of the World Baseball Classic" to give back to baseball fans and SUBWAY customers, surprising them with free sandwiches and even getting behind the counter to throw together some $3 six-inch selects of their own.

A few hours later, Rios and team Puerto Rico fell to the Dominican Republic 3-0 in the title game. Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run double in the first inning, and Erick Aybar added an RBI double to back winning pitcher Samuel Deduno.

Rios was 0-for-2 with two walks in the game. Alejandro De Aza of the White Sox was 1-for-3 with a run scored for the victorious Dominicans.

Flowers doesn't want back "to ruin this opportunity"

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After not catching since Thursday because of lower back stiffness, Tyler Flowers was penciled in to start Tuesday against the Reds. Flowers, who was given the No. 1 job after A.J. Pierzynski was allowed to walk in free agency, has a new routine that he hopes prevents the back from tightening on him again.

"I don't want something like this to ruin this opportunity,'' he said.

Flowers said the back bothered him most when running.

"Hitting was fine, throwing was fine. I caught a bullpen, that was fine,'' he said. "Running was the only time I felt it but it feels a lot better today so hopefully I don't feel it at all.''

Morel among White Sox roster cuts

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Brent Morel, the White Sox Opening Day third baseman in 2012 who was attempting to re-establishing his place with the team this spring after coming back from a back injury, was optioned to AAA Charlotte on Tuesday.

The White Sox made four other roster cuts, also optioning right-hander Deunte Heath to Charlotte and re-assigning infielder Carlos Sanchez, right-hander Zach Stewart and left-hander Daniel Moskos to minor-league camp.

"I don't think there's really much to say besides it sucks, it's not what you're looking for,'' Morel said.

Morel's chances of making the team took a hit when the club traded for left-handed hitting Conor Gillaspie early in camp. The Sox were thin on left-handed bats, and Gillaspie has hit .313 in Cactus League games. They also signed free agent Jeff Keppinger during the off-season and pegged him as their third baseman.

Morel, 25, batted .216. His back has felt good, so that has been encouraging.

"I put in a lot of work and feeling healthy again for the first time in a long time,'' Morel said. "Hopefully it translates. I had a good talk with them. They're really pleased with my attitude and how I've been playing, my health. It's just one of those things where there's really not enough room right now. I will do what I can to go down there and play for however long it takes, but show them and everybody else that I'm healthy and playing well and kind of go from there."

The Sox have 36 players left in major-league camp, including 18 pitchers, three catchers, nine infielders and six outfielders.

White Sox' Sale stoked for opener

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - At 23, Chris Sale seems mature beyond his years. That said, an Opening Day start at U.S. Cellular Field will make him feel like a "kid in a candy shop.''

"It's going to be fun. It's going to be awesome,'' said Sale, a day after manager Robin Ventura made it official and named the All-Star to start his first Opening Day. "My knees are shaking just thinking about it. It's going to be fun, going up there and having our fans from day one. You know the Cell is going to be electric and the fans will be screaming, going nuts.''

The Sox open against the Kansas Royals on April 1. Sale at first tried to downplay the significance of the moment, but he couldn't. He was fourth in the rotation last season, his first as a starter, and recalls being amped up as a spectator.

"I'm definitely going to have to collect myself, that's for sure,'' he said. "Stay focused and take a lot of deep breaths.

"Everyone's excited, the fans are going nuts. And being a part of that now could be overwhelming. I'm going to do everything I can to collect my thoughts and stand on an even plane."

Ventura told Sale on Friday, a week after Sale signed a $32.5 million contract extension. Things are moving fast for him.

"I called my dad the other day and said, 'When am I going to wake up?" Sale said. "When's the wakeup call coming?'' It's a lot to take in, but I'm certainly appreciative of everything. I know what's gone on doesn't happen to a lot of people, so I've noticed that and taken that in. I'm trying to appreciate this and show that I appreciate it."

Flowers expects to catch Tuesday

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After being penciled in Saturday night to catch on Sunday, Tyler Flowers was not in the lineup for Sunday's White Sox game against the Royals in Surprise.

Flowers, who hasn't caught in a game since Thursday because of a stiff lower back, was surprised to hear that he was posted on the lineup card, but he said Sunday morning he expects to catch Tuesday. The Sox have an off day Monday.

Flowers was headed to the backfields to do his normal work, including hitting.

"It feels good,'' he said. "It's progressing nicely. Going to do some stuff, keep everything in shape and I'll be good to go.''

Jeff Keppinger returned after a three-day absence because of a personal matter. He was in the lineup as the designated hitter and batting third. Keppinger, who suffered a broken ankle in a fall at home during the offseason, has dealt with soreness in his right shoulder as a result of not going through his normal offseason throwing routine.

"I don't have an issue with my shoulder where it's going to be a problem all season long,'' Keppinger said Sunday. "There's a little irritation and inflammation in there from just picking up the use really fast where in the offseason I didn't much time to build it up. I'm pretty sure it's taken care of and we'll move forward from here.''

Sale named White Sox Opening Day starter

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura said that Chris Sale will start for the White Sox on Opening Day. Ventura made the announcement following the Sox' 11-5 Cactus League victory against the Oakland A's on Saturday.

Sale had his worst outing of the spring, allowing five runs on seven hits over five-plus innings.

"Just erratic control, kind of all over the zone,'' Sale said.

The Sox open at home against the Kansas City Royals on April 1. It will be Sale's first Opening Day start, and the assignment comes as no surprise. Sale signed a $32.5 million contract extension last week.

White Sox' Viciedo experiments slowly, surely

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- So Dayan Viciedo, how is the leg-lift experiment going?

"I'm trying it slowly,'' Viciedo said Friday. "One step at a time. I want to try this and give it a good shot, but at the same time I want to stay original with my own swing as well. It's something I'm adding but going slowly until I feel real comfortable.''

Viciedo is trying a scaled-down version of assistant hitting coach Harold Baines' lift when Baines was playing. Hitting coach Jeff Manto suggested it to help his timing on off-speed pitches. Manto made it clear early-on that if Viciedo didn't like it he could scrap it.

"I plan to continue to try it but I want to give it time, take it slowly so the changes aren't drastic,'' Viciedo said through a translator.

"I feel better with every game that goes by,'' Viciedo said. "I don't get to play winter ball so this time is my time to really get ready and prepare for the season. Every day I'm making adjustments and doing something different.''

Viciedo launched an opposite-field liner to right center for a grand slam against the Cubs Friday. It was a beautiful sight to manager Robin Ventura, who likes seeing Viciedo use the entire field.

"When I concentrate on hitting the ball back through the middle and the other way I have really good power and my swings are more consistent that way,'' Viciedo said.

White Sox' Flowers out again with stiff lower back

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White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers is out of the lineup for a second consecutive day because of lower back stiffness. Flowers said his back tightened up on him Friday morning.

"I think it might be sleeping funny or something, maybe a little dehydrated from that 107 in Tempe (on Thursday when temperatures climbed into the mid 90s in the Sox game against the Angels). But [trainer] Herm [Schneider] is kicking my butt in there so we should be back shortly.''

While Flowers' tone was optimistic, there is always cause for concern with back issues, especially for a catcher. The Sox open the season in 16 days.

Flowers was maintaining a sense of humor when asked how it affected his range of motion.

"I've never had much," the 6-4, 245-pounder said.

Hector Gimenez will catch Chris Sale when the Sox play the A's at 3:05 p.m. (CST).

White Sox option Mitchell, three others to AAA Charlotte

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox made four cuts, optioning right-handers Andre Rienzo and Jhan Marinez, C Josh Phegley and OF Jared Mitchell to AAA Charlotte, bringing their number of players in camp to 41.

Also, Tyler Flowers (stiff back) was a late scratch in favor of Hector Gimenez on Friday. Flowers is day-to-day, manager Robin Ventura said.

Righthander Jesse Crain, who has made one appearance this spring because of a groin strain, must feel like a marked man. He pitched in a minor league game and was struck on the right hip by a line drive but finished his inning. Trainer Herm Schneider said Crain is fine.

Cooper says Danks still has time, but he needs to climb

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Pitching coach Don Cooper with John Danks. PHOTO BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox pitching Don Cooper hasn't ruled John Danks out of the starting rotation when camp breaks, but he knows the $65 million left-hander who started on Opening Day last season but was derailed by a shoulder injury must progress in his last three starts of the spring.

"John is aware if he's ready he's going to be with us,'' Cooper said Friday morning. "If he's not, we'll give him more time. It's not something we are going to rush or force feed. We can't say, 'Hey, we need you to throw harder.' We have no control over that. All we have control over is going out there and having our sidelines and going out in the game. Heck, he threw 60 pitches yesterday so that's a plus in itself. He's climbing.

"Now, it's going to be do we have enough time to get it all together for him to make his first start? That's what we are kind of watching. Nobody knows the answer to that. But there are positives there for sure.''

In the upper 80s, Danks' velocity on his fastball isn't where it needs to be for him to be at the top of his game. He was roughed up for six runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings against the Angels on Thursday. His spring ERA is 11.74 over three starts. His ERAs the last two springs were 3.04 and 4.09.

"I knew going into this there were going to be ups and downs,'' Cooper said. "He's had a surgical procedure for crying out loud. But the pluses yesterday: He threw a few more strikes. His changeup was pretty good. He threw a couple of curve balls that were good. There's progress there. Are we going to have enough time? Yeah, I think we have enough time if everything really works out well the rest of the time.''

Cooper said the goal is to get Danks ready to pitch six innings.

"I'm not thinking we got to get him up to 115 pitches here,'' Cooper said. "This is a post-surgery guy. Yesterday he went out there four times. Next time he's going to try to get out there for five.
"Listen, he's frustrated by the results but let's face it, as we go, we'd like to see more results. But, dot, dot, dot, this is a guy that's working to come back after surgery, somebody was digging in his arm, for crying out loud. But listen, we got time left and we'll see."

Danks roughed up by Angels

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- John Danks had his second rough outing in a row on Thursday, and this time the cold weather wasn't to blame.

Pitching on a hot, sunny day at Diablo Stadium, Danks was lifted after going through the Angels lineup two times. Danks threw 61 pitches over 3 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on seven hits, including Mike Trout's leadoff home run. Danks walked one and struck out two.

The outing follows Danks 2 1/3 inning stint against the Diamondbacks in chilly, wet conditions on Saturday in which he gave up seven hits and five runs.

Danks believes he's still on course to break camp with the team.

"I think so,'' Danks said. "I haven't heard anything different. Going back to what Dr. Romeo said, there's nothing else I can do. We're at the mercy of my shoulder, really. I'm going to go out and keep doing what I'm doing. Hopefully we'll start to see better results starting with the next time.''

"It's a team sport and wins driven. I fully anticipate them taking the best five [starters] they have at that time. Hopefully I'm one of them. I have no doubts I will be.''

Danks faced a tough lineup that included Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo.

"Obviously the results don't show, but I feel like this was probably one of my better outings just in terms of seeing some results,'' Danks said. "I threw some good changeups, I was able to get the cutter working toward the end. Obviously I gotta get the ball down, but that'll come. There's plenty of positives to take out of it. Obviously you don't like to come out of it like that, but it's another small step. I won't say a leap, but it's a small step in the right direction.''

Thornton well enough to go full throttle -- but won't

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Thornton is eager to put the pedal to the metal, but at age 36 he knows better. He pitched in a minor league game Wednesday, working on his harder breaking ball, and will skip two days before throwing in a game.

The tender elbow that sent Thornton for a precautionary MRI during the first week of camp is good, he insisted Thursday.

"I feel great, I really do,'' Thornton said.

"I'm looking forward now to throwing more often, honestly. To get out there more. I hate 'today off, tomorrow off, pitch in two days.' I'm tired of just throwing sidelines. It's part of the plan. And it's hard to stick to the plan.''

The plan is to keep the workhorse Thornton, whose 472 appearances since 2006 ranks first in the American League, strong through September.

"I almost went to [pitching coach Don Cooper] after my last outing and said. 'Let's scrap the sideline and let's pitch in a game. But pump the brakes. I want to be strong throughout the season and start throwing more often and bringing it all together in the next few outings.''

Crain "not worried" about lingering adductor issue

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- While Jesse Crain has pitched in only one game this spring, he remains confident he'll be ready for Opening Day in 18 days.

"Hoping to feel good tomorrow for another bullpen [session], so I'm not worried about it,'' Crain said Thursday morning, a day after he threw a side session at Camelback Ranch. "It's getting closer but I know what I need to do to get ready. Bullpen wise my arm feels great and my pitches feel great it's just being able to extend and be game ready and hopefully I'll be that in the next couple days.''

Crain is sore in the right groin area, specifically an adductor strain. He was supposed to pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic but was scratched because of it. He still can't get full extension with his left leg without discomfort.

"I can tell when I'm ready to throw in a game, and as of yesterday I wasn't. But it's still taking a step forward so hopefully I'll be even another step forward and be ready to go.''

Keppinger scratched from White Sox lineup

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A day after manager Robin Ventura said Jeff Keppinger would be out for a couple of days, the White Sox infielder was penciled in the lineup at second base. Then he he was scratched in favor of Gordon Beckham because of a personal matter, a Sox spokesman said.

The Sox play the Angels in Tempe at 3:05 p.m. The game will be televised on MLB Network in the Chicago market. Left-hander John Danks will pitch for the Sox, followed by lefty Hector Santiago. This will be a good test for Danks to see where his velocity is at in his return from shoulder surgery in August.

The Sox lineup: Wise RF, Beckham 2B, Dunn 1B, Viciedo LF, Gillaspie 3B, Ramirez SS, Bell DH, Flowers C, Tekotte CF.

White Sox fall to Indians

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Indians 5, White Sox 2


For the record: Using their second-tier pitchers against their AL Central rivals while Jake Peavy and the team's top relievers pitched in minor league scrimmages earlier in the day, the Sox fell to 8-6-2. The Sox strung four hits together in the second inning against Indians No. 2 starter Ubaldo Jimenez, including a double by Gordon Beckham for an RBI and Dewayne Wise's RBI single but managed only two hits over the final six innings. The Indians are 12-6-1.

On the plus side: Alexei Ramirez (.409) singled twice and stole a base, Wise had two singles, Beckham hit a ground-rule double against Jimenez that traveled 400 feet on the fly to center to extend his hitting streak to five games and Paul Konerko (1-for-3) singled his first at-bat for his 10th hit in 16 at-bats before making a couple of outs. Konerko is batting .355.

On the down side: Jordan Danks' average dropped to .056 with an 0-for-3 day including two strikeouts. Top infield prospect Carlos Sanchez air-mailed a throw from deep shortstop for his third error of the spring. Deunte Heath allowed a two-run homer to Cord Phelps.

He's back: Brazilian Andre Rienzo, one of the team's top pitching prospects, started and gave up two runs in three innings after returning from the World Baseball Classic.


Up next: At Los Angeles Angels, 3:05. John Danks starts against the Angels' Jason Vargas.

White Sox' Peavy in (loud) mid-season form

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Jake Peavy throws one of his 81 pitches Wednesday. PHOTO BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN


GLENDALE, Ariz. - It's the White Sox way to steer their pitchers away from facing American League Central teams, so Jake Peavy and several top relievers pitched in scrimmages against Sox minor leaguers Wednesday morning.

You wouldn't have known it being within earshot of Peavy, who huffs, puffs and yells with mid-season intensity.

"In that environment, sometimes I don't want to get crazy and you guys think I'm some kind of animal down there screaming and yelling, scaring children,'' Peavy said. "I got a couple guys' families back there out seeing his first spring training and I'm out yelling and screaming on the mound.''

Peavy wasn't happy with his location - he gave up a homer to Dan Black and was knocked around a little - but he said he threw 60 of his 81 pitches using a slide step out of the stretch position "as if Austin Jackson was on first base.''
"To be able to work on stuff like that is huge for me,'' he said.

Peavy is also feeling some fatigue, which is normal for this point in camp with Opening Day two and a half weeks away.

"I'm kind of coming into that dead arm - whatever that means - mode,'' he said. "I don't feel crazy fresh right now simply because we're tearing the body down. And we'll tear the body down for one or two more starts.

"So you kind of tire your arm out, plus you're building up, you're throwing more and more pitches every time out, so you're getting tired, you're getting in shape. To get in shape, you have to do something. You have to stretch yourself until you get comfortable doing that.''

5 homers aside, Konerko needs more time before Opening Day

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - With five home runs already during spring training, Paul Konerko looks ready to go.

At 37, you'd think he's been through enough camps, taken enough swings in his day and picked enough low throws out of the dirt to be ready for Opening Day tomorrow.

"Every year you kind of dislike spring training a little more, but you kind of need it more every year,'' Konerko said. "I've always kind of needed all of spring training. Some guys don't need it all.''

Konerko said he needs to field more ground balls in game situations.

"I can count the grounders I've had on one hand,'' he said.

And he wouldn't mind at all if Alexei Ramirez would make a low throw from shortstop for him to scoop.

"You want a couple of bad throws,'' Konerko said. "You want some things to happen out there. You're at the mercy of the game but yo want more game situations out there.''

Konerko was 10-for-28 (.357) going into the Sox game against the Indians (3:05 CST) on Wednesday. Even so, he's not quite there yet with the end of camp two weeks away.

"Hitting wise I've taken some nice swings,'' he said. "Still giving away some at-bats on my bad ones that I don't like. You're going to make outs, but there are a couple of bad at-bats here and there that get away from you. Also, you might face the starter for two at-bats [right now]. As it gets deeper in spring you might face the starter three at-bats and a big league reliever in the fourth one. That's where you start gauging stuff more.''

Konerko, Dunn power White Sox past Cubs

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Paul Konerko connects for a homer during the fourth inning. AP PHOTO

WHITE SOX 8, CUBS 3

For the record: The Sox improved to 6-3-2 as Paul Konerko belted his second and third homers of the spring and Adam Dunn hooked his second of the spring around the right-field foul pole. The Sox out-hit the Cubs 14-6.

Q now 2-for-2: Left-hander Jose Quintana struck out four Cubs and allowed one run over 3 2/3 innings for his second strong start in a row. He was perfect in three innings against the Reds his first time out.

He's hot: Konerko (.368) went 3-for-3 and has six hits in a row, including two against the Cubs' Carlos Villanueva. "Konerko, what can I say?" Villanueva said. "I thought that first hit he got [a single in the second] was a very good pitch down and away, and the homer he hit, I was very surprised it went out, but I threw the ball exactly where I wanted to throw it, it was up and in on his hands.''

But he's not: Going to the WBC to play for Team USA. Konerko wasn't asked and said he wouldn't have gone if asked, anyway, because in the fall he committed to spring training only with the Sox.

Make mine a double: Jeff Keppinger, Tyler Flowers, Conor Gillaspie and Gordon Beckham doubled. Flowers' bounced off the center-field wall.

Prospect watch: Jared Mitchell raised his average to .438 with two singles. After giving up a homer to Christian Villanueva, Leyson Septimo left a game in the ninth inning with an injury for the second time. Manager Robin Ventura said the lefty had a sore arm.

On deck: At Indians, Friday 2:05, whitesox.com. Jake Peavy starts against Clayton Richard for the second time in five days.

Sale gets his wish: 5-year, $32 million deal with White Sox

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale was appreciative of the White Sox' desire to lock him up to a long-term deal. Sale got that wish Thursday, when the Sox announced a five-year, $32 million contract extension for the prized left-hander which includes club options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Sale, 23, willl receive $850,000 in 2013, $3.5 million in 2014, $6.0 million in 2015, $9.15 million in 2016 and $12 million in 2017. The Sox hold options for 2018 at $12.5 million and for 2019 at $13.5 million. If either option is declined, Sale receives a $1.0-million buyout. The options could bring the deal up to $60 million.

"Certainly a pitcher regardless of their mechanics there is a risk involved,'' general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday. "There is concern for potential breakdown, but we are confident in Chris' durability and are very optimistic about his future. What this came down to was bearing one of two risks: The risk of going year to year which would lead to potential downside of him walking out the door in four years or the risk of a mulit-year deal which leads to the downside risk of potential injury and us being out a few bucks along the way. But what we feel is the more important reward of keeping him here longterm.''

The Sox had Sale under contract for $600,000 this season after he made $500,000 in 2012. Sale wasn't eligible for salary arbitration till after the season, so the Sox were under no obligation to work out an extension. But it made sense for them to delay his going on the open market as a free agent.

Team captain Paul Konerko said it makes sense "if you have a guy who is talented at what he does and the biggest component is that you just know by the person he is, he's going to come in and work hard and he wants it.

"Those two things exist [in Sale's case], and it's only a good deal for the team,'' Konerko said. "There's always a risk of injury. That goes at any level.

"You could not tie up the young guy and wait to sign a six- or seven-year free agent and spend a lot of money on him and the risk of injury is the exact same. So, as long as those two are there where a guy is good, talented at what he does, and is just a gamer, wants to be good and will show up, it makes sense to do it. That guy is going to do well. If he's going to do well, you might as well lock him in and don't let it get just out of control.''

Sale has been diligent about his craft and conditioning, and is evolving into a team leader at the ripe age of 23. He is also regarded as the best pitcher on the team and one of the best left-handers in baseball.

"It's always that something's that's on your mind too is the appreciation factor they've shown and I hope they feel for me as well,'' Sale said.

"Just try not to look far deep into it but also don't take it for granted. Do the things I need to do and it'll work itself out.''

'Great day of work' for White Sox' Chris Sale

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AP PHOTO

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale threw 65 pitches in a four-inning simulated game against minor leaguers on Wednesday morning. Pitching coach Don Cooper called it "a great day of work" for the White Sox lefty.

Wednesday marked the Sox' first off-day of spring training. They play the Cubs in Mesa on Thursday with lefty Jose Quintana starting against the North Siders.

Sale's agents reportedly have been in conversations about a contract extension with the Sox. He signed a $600,000 one-year contract on Feb. 22, $110,000 above the major league minimum, and is not eligible for salary arbitration until next winter so there is no need for the Sox to work out a deal now. However, the Sox have worked out multi-year contracts to players such as Sergio Santos and Gavin Floyd in the past, before they became eligible for arbitration.

"We've been kind of back and forth but nothing too crazy right now," Sale said Tuesday.

Sale, 23, posted a 17-8 record and 3.05 ERA with 192 strikeouts over 192 innings in 2012, his first full season as a starter. He finished sixth in the American League Cy Young award voting.

Sale is the likely choice to be the Sox' Opening Day starter.

Talking about an extension indicates the Sox' belief in Sale's durability. His skinny body type and mechanics are causes for injury risk to some, but not for the Sox brain trust, even though his effectiveness tapered off in the second half last season. That was not a big surprise considering he was putting uncharted levels of stress and work on his arm in his first season as a starter.

"As he got above 180 innings last year we started to see a little bit of a decline towards the end which wasn't a shock given his previous highs,'' general manager Rick Hahn said. "So you're cognizant of the innings jump, but we don't take just the objective increase in innings to mean that he's doomed to fail. Mechanics, self-reporting and again what our scouts are reporting is going to carry more weight than just a number year to year.
"In fact a lot of the year-to-year innings jumps that you see with guys at risk has been pretty well disproven over recent years as a warning sign. And look, every pitcher is at risk. Whether he's at a zero-inning jump or a 30-plus inning jump, there's risk involved.''

At 6-6, and about 185 pounds, there's not a lot of meat on his bones. But his delivery is loose.

"Jack McDowell was pretty skinny and he had a good career,'' strength and conditioning coordinator Allen Thomas said of the former Sox ace. "Skinny and strength don't equate. We look at [shortstop] Alexei [Ramirez], you watch him walk down the street and go 'ha,' but he's very, very strong.
"Sale is getting stronger every year. You have to understand where he's at and his age also. There's still a lot of growth to go on. He could grow all the way up to [age] 32, 33 with his last growth spurt.''

Hosmer, not Konerko, to replace Teixeira on Team USA

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer will replace Mark Teixeira on the Team USA roster for the World Baseball Classic.

White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko was mentioned Tuesday by Team USA manager Joe Torre as a potential replacement for the injured Teixeira, and Sox manager Robin Ventura gave the possibility his blessing. Hosmer bats left, making him a favorable option for the right-handed heavy USA squad.

Teixeira was forced out of the WBC after sustaining a wrist injury while hitting off a tee Tuesday before the team's exhibition game against the Sox. Konerko had three hits, a run scored and an RBI in the game, which ended in a 4-4 tie.

Sale, White Sox reportedly discuss extension

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AP PHOTO

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox and prized left-hander Chris Sale have reportedly had conversations about a contract extension.

Sale, who signed a $600,000 one-year contract on Feb. 22, $110,000 above the major league minimum, is not eligible for salary arbitration until next winter so there is no need for the Sox to work out a deal now. However, the Sox have worked out multiyear contracts to players such as Sergio Santos and Gavin Floyd in the past, before they became eligible for arbitration.

"We've been kind of back and forth but nothing too crazy right now," Sale told CSN Chicago on Tuesday.

Sox general manager Rick Hahn, sticking to his policy of not discussing rumors, declined comment.

Sale, 23, posted a 17-8 record and 3.05 ERA with 192 strikeouts over 192 innings in 2012, his first full season as a starter. He finished sixth in the American League Cy Young award voting.

Sale is the likely choice to be the Sox' Opening Day starter in 2013.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Because of an injury to first baseman Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko might be a late addition to Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

Konerko, who got three hits against Team USA in the American squad's first tuneup for the tournament, was mentioned as a possibility by USA manager Joe Torre.

"Joe said it on the way by it was a possibility,'' Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "They'll figure that out.''

Ventua said he has no concerns about Konerko playing.

"It's about getting ready. If he's ready to go and play it's his decision. He's been around long enough to know if it's going to help him get ready for the season.''

Torre would probably prefer a left-handed hitting first baseman such as Prince Fielder.

"We'll see,'' Ventura said.

Team USA's first game is Friday against Mexico at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Floyd sharp as White Sox tie Team USA

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WHITE SOX 4, TEAM USA 4

Fit to be tied: Facing a lineup that included Jimmy Rollins, Brandon Phillips, Ryan Braun, Joe Mauer, David Wright, Giancarlo Stanton, Adam Jones and Ben Zobrist, the Sox got 2 2/3 scoreless innings from Gavin Floyd in his first appearance of the spring, 1 1/3 scoreless from Hector Santiago and runless frames from Matt Thornton, Nate Jones and Dylan Axelrod. It was the third tie of the spring for the Sox (5-3-3).
"They have a great lineup,'' Floyd said. "I think it's going to be exciting for the WBC. Pitching against them in your first start you go ... not too many weak spots in that lineup. No matter who's in there you try to keep it normal and make pitches.''

37 candles, 3 hits: Paul Konerko was 3-for-3 with an RBI single and run scored on his 37th birthday. Gordon Beckham turned the same trick, going 3-for-3 with an RBI and run scored.

Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo and Dewayne Wise doubled.

On deck: Except for Chris Sale, who is scheduled to pitch a bullpen session, most of the Sox will enjoy an off day. The Sox go to Mesa on Thursday to play the Cubs. Left-hander Jose Quintana will make his second start and against Carlos
Villaneuva.

White Sox' Danks feeling fine the morning after

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John Danks pitched in a game Monday for the first time since last May. AP PHOTO


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Left-hander John Danks was sore on Tuesday morning, sore in all the right places and like the other starting pitchers feel on the day after they pitch. Danks worked two-plus innings for the first time since last May on Monday against the San Francisco Giants.

"I knew I was going to be sore,'' Danks said. "I feel like I'm sore like Jake [Peavy], Chris [Sale] or Gavin [Floyd] , not recovering surgery guy. Things are doing well. It's still a work in progress, we know that but to be able to bounce back today, I'm going to play catch and go through all the drills. I don't anticipate there being any issues there. It's a big step.''

Danks will stay on schedule and throw a side session Wednesday and pitch against the Diamondbacks on Saturday.

Danks said he slept great Monday night after allowing one run, on a homer by Joaquin Arias.

"Like a rock. I was tired, first of all. I did a lot of thinking about the game and stuff. It's exciting. It's the first time I'd had real adrenaline in almost a year.

"I'm part of the team now. It almost does feel that way for no other reason than you just get in your own head. You're by yourself a lot and in a sling. You do a lot of thinking and a lot of times you're hurting yourself more than you're helping yourself with those thoughts. I'm definitely glad to be back. I'm not 100 percent back, but no one is 100 percent quite yet. I'm on track. I'm where I need to be at this point.''

The Sox play Team USA in an exhibition at Camelback Ranch at 2:05 p.m. Chicago time. Gavin Floyd will start, with Matt Thornton pitching for the first time and Scott Snodgress, Hector Santiago, Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom and Dylan Axelrod also scheduled.

The lineup: Wise RF, Ramirez SS, Keppinger 3B, Dunn 1B, Paul Konerko DH, Viciedo LF, Flowers C, Tekotte CF, Beckham 2B.

Leesman among six roster cuts by White Sox

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox made their first roster camps of spring on Tuesday morning, optioning left-hander Charlie Leesman to AAA Charlotte and reassigning five players to minor league camp: Infielder Tyler Saladino, catchers Kevin Smith and Michael Blanke, right-hander Jacob Petricka and infielder Andy Wilkins.

The Sox have 55 players left in big-league camp.

"All good:" Danks fares well in first outing

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John Danks serves up a home run pitch to Joaquin Arias during the first inning.
SUN-TIMES PHOTO BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox left-hander John Danks threw 35 pitches in his first outing since last May, going two-plus innings against the San Francisco Giants on Monday.

Danks retired six of the eight batters he faced, throwing 27 of the 35 pitches for strikes. Joaquin Arias, the second batter he faced, homered to left before Danks retired the next five Giants. After Kensuke Tanaka singled leading off the third, manager Robin Ventura took the ball and Danks' day was over.

Danks touched 89 mph with his fastball and gave up one run on one hit and no walks. He did not strike out a batter.

Danks last pitched in a game when he faced the Cubs on May 19. He had surgery on his left shoulder in August.

"All good,'' Danks said afterward. "It's one of those that I'm glad it's over. Glad to get the first one out of the way. I couldn't have really asked for more. I don't want to give up homers. My main focus was throwing strikes and I was able to do that.''

The most important thing for Danks coming out of it was how he felt and he came away with no issues.

"I feel good right now,'' he said. "The test will be tomorrow and the next day. So far so good. You know, I mean as I was going back out there for the second and third innings, I didn't feel like I was losing anything. If anything it was starting to come to me a little bit.

"It's all good. It has been a positive day.''

Danks said he couldn't wait to get on the mound.

"I tell you what, the clock stopped at 11,'' Danks said, alluding to the 1 p.m. start. "I felt like I kept looking at the clock, waiting for the game to start. But you know I was glad to get back out there. Once I got on the field and started warming up, it felt a little more in my comfort zone.''

Adductor strain sidelines White Sox' Crain

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Jesse Crain has been scratched from playing for Canada in the World Baseball Classic because of a strained right adductor.

"I'm bummed about it but I have to get ready for the season,'' said the 31-year-old reliever, who added that he expects to be ready by Opening Day.

The muscle affected is near the groin.

"I want to get back out there and pitch and not go through what I went through last year,'' said Crain, who battled through oblique issues that first occurred during spring training in 2012. "Hopefully be back out there within in a week.

"Last year I come to spring and have something I never had before and this year it's something else. I have to fight through it and not get my hopes down. If you try to push through it it will never heal and then you're dealing with it all year so we have to let it relax. It's strong, it's like a strain.

Crain played in the WBC the last two years.

"I'm not overly concerned as we speak,'' pitching coach Don Cooper said. "We have the best in the business taking care of him. Jesse was smart enough to tell us when something wasn't feeling right. We're going to nip it in the bud and hopefully it doesn't arise later. We've got plenty of time.''

Padres blank White Sox, Peavy

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PADRES 4, WHITE SOX 0

For the record: The Sox dropped to 4-3-2 with their quietest offensive showing of the spring. The Sox had four hits, singles by Tyler Flowers, Hector Gimenez (6-for-10 this spring), Stefan Gartrell and Conor Gillaspie (who raised his average to .357 with an infield hit).

Peavy's first start: Right-hander Jake Peavy threw 44 pitches over three innings, allowing three runs on five hits and one walk to the first-ball hitting Padres, his former team. Peavy struck out two and retired the last five batters he faced. "I threw mainly fastballs. Just trying to get the command,'' Peavy said. "You can only go so hard in your bullpen sessions and live BP. It's nice to get a hitter in there. They are a very aggressive team. But I used my fastball and got better as I went.''

Penned in: Addison Reed and Matt Lindstrom each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, and prospect Nestor Molina - acquired in the trade for Sergio Santos - pitched two scoreless innings, his second scoreless outing. Lindstrom, a free-agent signee in the offseason, hasn't allowed a run in three appearances.

He's back: Alexei Ramirez returned after missing four days tending to a family matter in Miami. Ramirez played shortstop and went 0-for-3.

Rough one: Brent Morel was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and got doubled off second on Paul Konerko's liner to third baseman Chase Headley.

On deck: Vs. Giants, 2:05. John Danks, who is recovering from left shoulder surgery, will pitch in a game for the first time since he faced the Cubs in May. Ryan Vogelsong will pitch for the Giants. Simon Castro, Donnie Veal, Brian Omogrosso, Jhan Marinez and Ramon Troncoso are also on the Sox pitching schedule.

White Sox' Sale sold on changeups to lefties

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Chris Sale pitches to the Cleveland Indians on Friday. (AP photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale threw a couple of changeups to Indians leadoff man Michael Bourn during his first start on Friday, the first time he's ever thrown that pitch to a left-handed hitter. Bourn struck out twice.

"It looked weird and felt weird but I threw it a couple times and had some success with it,'' Sale said Sunday morning. "On the outer half to the lefty which is a little different. Usually you fall off and throw it arm side.''

Lefty-to-lefty changeups aren't unusual. John Danks throws his changeup to all hitters.

"I talked to John and he's like, 'lefty-on-lefty changeup, that's one of my favorite pitches to throw,' '' Sale said. "I've actually never done it.''


White Sox' Flowers easing into full-time catching duty

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White Sox Spring Base_Van .jpg
AP Photo

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Tyler Flowers, embarking on his first major league season as a full-time catcher, has caught in only three of the White Sox' eight games this spring. He was in the lineup as the designated hitter Sunday with Hector Gimenez catching Jake Peavy. The Sox play the Padres in Peoria.

Flowers has spent much of his time doing extra work on receiving, blocking, throwing and hitting.

"It's a long spring, it's early,'' Flowers said. "I expect to start playing every other day consistently soon.''

Bench coach Mark Parent, a former catcher, knows the rigors of the job and does what he can to keep Flowers fresh. It's not unusual to see Parent picking him up in a golf cart to transport Flowers from one station to another on the backfields.

"He's a catcher, he knows how heavy the bags are,'' Flowers said. "He's a nice guy.''

Shortstop Alexei Ramirez returned from Miami, where he had been tending to a family matter since Tuesday, and will play shortstop.

The lineup against lefty Clayton Richard: Wise LF, Morel 3B, Flowers C, Konerko DH, Gimenez C, Ramirez SS, Gartrell RF, Walker CF, Beckham 2B.

Brazil, White Sox prospect Rienzo fall to Cuba

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Japan World Baseball _Van .jpg

Sox prospect allows two runs over 4 2/3 innings

Shrugging off a terrible outing for the White Sox on Monday, prospect Andre Rienzo bounced back with four solid innings for underdog Brazil against Cuba in the World Baseball Classic on Sunday in Fukuoka, Japan.

In a 5-2 loss to Cuba, Rienzo allowed one hit, and, despite four walks, kept Brazil in the game with four scoreless innings. In the fifth inning, with runners on first and third, Rienzo induced what could have been an inning-ending double play to Guillermo Heredia but the runner on first was moving with the pitch and beat the throw to second. The relay was in time to retire Heredia at first, but a run scored.

Rienzo reached his pitch count, and Ernesto Noris came on in relief and allowed a run-scoring single to give Cuba a 2-0 lead. Rienzo, who didn't allow a hit till the fifth, was charged with two runs over 4 2/3 innings and finished with two strikeouts.

Rienzo's first spring outing with the Sox was better than his last one Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz., when he was tagged for five runs, failing to retire each of the five Giants he faced. He was originally scheduled to face Japan but was moved to match up against Cuba. Japan defeated Brazil 5-3 in their opener on Saturday.

Rienzo, a 6-3, 190-pound right-hander who had pitched better in his first Cactus League game for the Sox, showed a sense of humor after his rough outing in Scottsdale.

"I hope I start,'' Rienzo said after getting roughed up by the Giants. "I don't know if [Brazil manager] Barry Larkin saw the game today and changes it. I hope not.''

Rienzo posted a 7-3 record with a 2.53 ERA, 113 strikeouts and 42 walks over 103 1/3 innings combined at Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, AA Birminghan and AAA Charlotte last season.

Last year Rienzo was suspended 50 games for testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, a synthetic anabolic steroid.

"I never took anything I didn't think I couldn't take,'' he said. "I learned you never take anything without knowing everything that's in it. Now I need to be more responsible."

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Quintana pitched three perfect innings in his first appearance this spring, and Jared Mitchell and Conor Gillaspie hit home runs to lead the White Sox to a 4-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday afternoon.

The White Sox improved to 4-2-2 as Quintana (two strikeouts) Hector Santiago (two scorless innings) and Nate Jones, Donnie Veal, Jhan Marinez (one scoreless inning each) also contributed to the team shutout.

Gillaspie, a left-handed hitting third baseman acquired from the San Francisco Giants in a trade, was given a look at first base but showed more of the same at bat, hitting his second homer of the spring. He also grounded out and struck out.

Former first-round pick Jared Mitchell hit a long opposite-field homer to left and doubled in a run, the double a soft liner to center that skipped past a diving Chris Heisey.

Third baseman Brent Morel, who could make the team as a utility player if he shows some versatility in the field, looked comfortable handling two chances at shortstop. He went 0-for-3 at the plate.

Good start for Sale in White Sox loss

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It was only March 1, but Chris Sale's juices were flowing like it was Sept. 1.

Or April 1, when he likely will get the ball to pitch on Opening Day.

Manager Robin Ventura is waiting to announce it. For what it's worth, Sale repeated on Friday that it would be an honor to get the nod.

"Absolutely. It's an honor,'' Sale said "Throwing opening day, just the excitement that goes into opening day. ... I was a kid in the candy shop the last couple opening days [just watching}, so to actually be playing would mean the world to me."

Sale pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the White Sox 9-7 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Dayan Viciedo hit a tape measure homer to left, and Brent Morel and Marcus Semien also homered for the Sox (3-2-2).

"I definitely felt good out there,'' Sale said. "The first inning was kind of sporadic. Just felt like I was going one million miles per hour. [Catcher] Hector [Gimenez] came out and said, 'slow it down.' When I threw my off-speed stuff, it kind of slowed me down and got me back to where I was. Thanks to him, I was able to pull it out

"Yeah, as far as today went, it's a good building block. I'm very satisfied with how it went. Obviously, there's room for improvement in anything you do. But this is a good building point. Day one, hot on the mound. Build from this and learn from this and try to go into the next one a little more."

Sale threw 48 pitches, 29 for strikes. He walked one in a 30-pitch first inning, then finished strong with a perfect inning before allowing a bloop single to Nate Spears and striking out Michael Bourn for the second time to end his day.

Matt Carson hit a three-run homer against Sox prospect Erik Johnson.

Gimenez was 3-for-3 for the Sox, giving him five hits in seven spring at-bats.

Focus same for Sale, but with one change of pace

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- White Sox left-hander Chris Sale will experiment with some new wrinkles, such as throwing changeups to lefties, when he pitches in a spring game for the first time Friday.

Sale's primary focus when he pitches against the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear, Ariz., will be locating his fastball, however. As good as his slider is, that's where it all begins and ends for Sale.
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"My main focus for this year or any year is fastball command, being able to throw the fastball to both sides of the plate, up and down, in and out,'' Sale said Thursday.

"And then secondary pitches and throwing changeups to lefties and stuff like that.''

Before this year, Sale said he never has thrown a changeup to a lefty. His fastball and slider always have been enough, but it can't hurt to give them something else to think about.

While some teams have used their rotation starters from the first day on the Cactus League schedule, the Sox have waited till the seventh game because of the early start this year. Sale is eager to pitch in a game.

"Anytime you're in a game situation, you're going to get something out of it,'' he said. "I'm going to compete like any other time on the mound.

"I'll be mixing some things in but mostly working on throwing strikes and getting command of the zone.''

Here is the Sox lineup for today against right-hander Justin Masterson:

30 Alejandro De Aza (L) - CF

15 Gordon Beckham - 2B

51 Alex Rios - RF

32 Adam Dunn (L) - 1B

24 Dayan Viciedo - RF

38 Hector Gimenez (S) - C

22 Brent Morel - 3B

20 Jordan Danks (L) - DH

83 Marcus Semien - 2B

40 Chris Sale - LHP

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