OAKLAND, Calif. -- Aside from the fact that it suggests he doesn't have great stuff, Dylan Axelrod doesn't mind his growing reputation as a mild-mannered sort who will fight you if backed into a corner.
"I think it's a compliment to be called a battler,'' Axelrod said.
Axelrod, who will go for his third consecutive win when the White Sox play against the Oakland A's on Friday night, believes in his stuff, too. He takes issue with the notion that it doesn't measure up.
"I feel like my stuff is pretty good, actually,'' he said. "A lot of movement ... I just don't throw 95 [mph] so people say I don't have good stuff. I'm not going to strike out 10 guys a game. I'm not going to be [Jeff] Samardzija. It's a combination of knowing my strengths and how to attack hitters and not trying to be anybody I'm not.''
"He can go soft, he can pitch in, he has a good cutter,'' pitching coach Don Cooper said. "All of it together is what makes him who he is.''
When John Danks returned to the Sox starting rotation after opening the season on the disabled list, Axelrod stayed in the rotation while lefty Hector Santiago moved to the bullpen. Santiago moved over gracefully. Axelrod said he would have done the same, while adding he believes he's where he belongs.
"I feel like I've done a pretty good job and even if I was sent to the pen, I'm still in the big leagues,'' he said. "I feel like I'm a starting pitcher and everyone else does, too. For now it's probably the best thing.''
Axelrod said he made some adjustments after his last start Sunday against the Marlins at U.S. Cellular Field. At one point, he couldn't get out of a rut of throwing pitches wide of the strike on his arm side.
"I needed to work on a few mechanical things,'' he said. "I was kind of flat, not driving the ball down. That's just flying open, not driving back down, letting my arm down, stuff like that. It's always a learning experience every time out. Just try to get better each time.''
The Sox (24-27) are looking to stop a three-game losing streak.