GLENDALE, Ariz. – The extended Spring Training due to the World Baseball Classic will benefit White Sox pitchers both young and old.
Pitching coach Don Cooper already has put together a full schedule for his staff, comparing it to piecing together a challenging but enjoyable puzzle. But one point Cooper made clear on Tuesday, on the day when pitchers and catchers reported to Camelback Ranch, is that none of his Major League starters will appear in a Cactus League game until March 1 against Cleveland in Goodyear, Ariz.
Chris Sale gets the call on that particular afternoon, followed by Jose Quintana on March 2, Jake Peavy on March 3, John Danks on March 4 and Gavin Floyd on March 5. Cooper pointed out that nothing should be read into the regular-season rotation alignment based on this Spring Training setup.
With games starting on Feb. 23, some of the up-and-coming hurlers will get a Cactus League start. Hector Santiago is slated to pitch the Cactus League opener against the Dodgers at Camelback, but Cooper also mentioned Scott Snodgress, Andre Rienzo, Erik Johnson, Simon Castro and Dylan Axelrod as starting possibilities over that six-game stretch.
In an attempt to monitor their Spring Training workload, Sale, Danks and reliever Matt Thornton will have two days off in between pitching as opposed to the regular one day for other hurlers. Sale is coming off a single-season career-high of 192 innings, while Cooper doesn't need 20 Cactus League appearances for Thornton in his 10th season -- the veteran left-hander has made no fewer than 61 in his seven previous seasons in Chicago.
Danks is working his way back from Aug. 6 arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. He will throw his first side session on Thursday.
White Sox monitoring Danks through spring camp
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There's not much more that John Danks could have accomplished during his rehab since Aug. 6 arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. But the veteran southpaw realizes a real test for his recovery will come from facing hitters.
That challenge should come in game competition on March 4 at home against the defending World Series champion Giants.
"Just being able to throw and being able to do what they have asked me so far, that's where I'm at," Danks said. "I'm where they told me to be at this point, so hopefully that's good enough. We'll see."
White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper stressed that Danks is not on some sort of special Spring Training program because of the surgery. The White Sox will be very careful to ensure Danks stays strong throughout the season, which could mean not breaking camp with the team even if he's ready, or at least moving a little slower at the start.
"I anticipate being ready. Obviously, there's a lot of time between now and then. I feel good about things. We'll see how it goes," Danks said. "I'm healthy. I'm ready to be over it. That's been a long process, but it's been part of it. It's got a little bit further to go."
"It's going to be on Coop and [White Sox manager] Robin [Ventura] as we go forward to sort of make sure he's not biting off more than he can chew," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "He feels strong, he looks great, he's eager. That's all wonderful, but we still need to put a little bit of governor on him so we can hopefully get him through seven months."
Sox GM Hahn keeps ear open for potential deals
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Although the White Sox seem happy with the roster they have in place, general manager Rick Hahn continues to look for the next move to improve his team's postseason chances.
"We are continuing to talk to other clubs," Hahn said. "There is sort of an inclination when you get to camp to let everyone settle in and assess where you are, especially from a health standpoint before you go out and make a move.
"Since I've been here, we've acquired Damaso Marte and Matt Thornton in Spring Training March deals. Those are players that can help a championship club. We are going to continue to be diligent and stay in contact with clubs about some previous targets that haven't changed hands, as well as potentially some new ones in the upcoming weeks."
The Indians made the latest American League Central improvement on Monday, by bringing in outfielder and leadoff man Michael Bourn. White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy, the team's biggest offseason free-agent pickup/returnee, believes the increased division strength should sound a warning sign for his White Sox.
"Those moves are making those teams better, and if we're not motivated and doing the things we're supposed to do and capable of doing, we're not going to beat those teams," Peavy said. "I certainly hope when guys see those teams make those moves, it urges them to work harder and be a little more prepared.
"Our division keeps getting better and it keeps getting better as of yesterday. We believe in what we put together, and there will be some moves along the way if we're in contention to give us the best chance."
Speedy prospect Walker working back from surgery
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Keenyn Walker, the fleet-footed outfielder who was the White Sox top pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, is in camp early after having a torn meniscus in his right knee repaired following this past season as well as surgery to take care of tearing a chunk of bone off his left shoulder. Walker has been working out, lifting and swinging the bat for about six or seven weeks, and doesn't feel as if there should be any limitations during his first big league camp.
"There's still those little points where my shoulder used to hurt back before surgery. I still need to get over that," Walker said. "That little mindset that I had before.
"Other than that, everything is good and feels good. I'm trying to put my weight back on from losing all of it. So, everything should be good to go."
Walker topped all White Sox Minor Leaguers last season with 56 stolen bases and finished with six triples in between stops at Class A Kannapolis and Class A Winston-Salem.
Third to first
• Jake Peavy told MLB.com at SoxFest that Chris Sale should be the team's Opening Day starter. He didn't change his tune when asked Tuesday, although manager Robin Ventura said the team would wait a while before naming one.
• Hector Santiago and Tyler Flowers have been in Arizona since the beginning of February, and Flowers already has caught the southpaw a couple of times. Flowers also has caught newcomer Matt Lindstrom three times in the past week in an effort to solidify that pitcher-catcher bond. "Those days just build that comfortable friendship," Santiago said. "He knows what I throw, and I know how he likes to catch and call pitches."
• Catcher Hector Gimenez is the only pitcher or catcher not in camp, delayed due to visa problems. The White Sox are hopefully he will arrive by Friday. Deunte Heath, whose arrival was going to be delayed with his wife Melisa due to deliver their second child on Thursday in Atlanta, was in camp Tuesday.