White Sox

Danks shuts out Mariners, Sox division lead grows

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Danks shuts out Mariners, Sox division lead grows

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Updated: 1:38 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

SEATTLE With the competition in the division mired in quicksand and looking all-too-susceptible to dying a slow death, the Chicago White Sox are poised to use a two-week stretch of games vs. the Seattle Mariners and Oakland As to steal the 2010 AL Central flag for good.

Courtesy of a two-hit pitching by John Dankswho allowed just a dinky infield hit to Casey Kotchman in the second inning and a crisp, two-out single to center by Ichiro Suzuki in the eighthChicago cruised to a 4-0 victory ove the Ms and a 3.5-game lead on both the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins.

On an odd baseball night, where 12 different teams scored seven runs or more, Danks was at his stingiest as well as his most effectively wild, with four walks and a hit Ichiro over his 7.2 innings.

He did what we expect him to do, said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. Hes a guy who goes out there to give you the best effort. Even when he doesnt have his good stuff hes going to go out there and compete.

Were just trying to live up to the hype right now, said the modest Danks. We got off to a pretty slow start as a staff, and weve turned it around.

The White Sox tapped out 10 hits and four runs. Mark Kotsay broke the ice in the fourth, tapping in Alex Rios on a groundout after he walked and was doubled to third by Paul Konerko. In the fifth, Chicago struck twice courtesy of four hits and RBI from Juan Pierre and Rios. And in the ninth, Alexei Ramirez yanked a 2-1 pitch out to left for his ninth homer of the season.

In the bottom of the ninth, Ramirez made a jaw-dropping play on a grounder from Jose Lopez, the momentum from his throw taking him practically to Safeco Fields sushi station for an early postgame Ichiroll.

Alexei has a great chance to be a Gold Glove winner, Guillen said.. Every day, hes getting better and better, a lot of work. Its paying off for him. He makes the ballclub a lot better.

But for Guillen, the true defensive star of the night was 43-year-old third baseman Omar Vizquel. The veteran made four terrific plays in the field, flashing leather just as fast as he did in winning 11 Gold Gloves as a shortstop earlier in his career.

Everything is contagious, Guillen said. Omar Vizquel put on a show today at 3rd base. If one of those balls went through it could have been a different ballgame. He made all the plays. When you see that happen, the rest of the infielders are ready.

Its something Danks saw and felt as well.

Its a little easier to hold a team to two hits when the left side of the infield is doing that for us, the starter said. Theyre turning plays that probably shouldnt be made into routine plays. Its fun to watch.

Like Guillen, Danks had particular salutations for Vizquel.

I dont think anyone else could ever do what hes doing, he said. Hes been impressive. Hes also been swinging the bat. Hes been a big key to where were at right now.

The typically low-key Vizquel deflected too much praise, offering, Some people say that defense wins ballgames, and weve been playing some pretty good defense. Every time you make some good plays to shut down the other team you feel pretty good about yourself.

J.J. Putz came on in relief of Danks and induced a fly out from Chone Figgins, which was his White Sox team record 25th straight scoreless appearance. Bobby Jenks shook off the loneliness of his last outing with a scoreless ninth.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.