White Sox

Danks nearly untouchable in White Sox win

Danks nearly untouchable in White Sox win

Sunday, March 13, 2011
Posted 5:31 p.m. Updated 6:43 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. Never mind that he faced a lineup of Los Angeles Dodgers N-teamers, John Danks will take a one-hit effort any day of the week.

Danks threw the White Soxs longest outing of the Cactus League season, scattering one hit and three walks over five innings and pacing the White Sox to a 6-1 win at Camelback Ranch on Sunday.

I feel good. I feel like I can throw most of my pitches, Danks said. There were a couple of instances where I got lucky, but for the most part I felt good. I was able to throw the ball in to righties a lot better than I have all camp.

He threw the ball better, manager Ozzie Guillen said. We try to eliminate the walks during spring training. Thats the goal right now. He threw pretty good and is pitching pretty well.

Danks punctuated his good feeling with two Ks and plenty of splintered lumber, dropping his spring ERA to a lean 1.74.

How well I pitched showed with all the broken bats, Danks said, adding that he didnt even see the first barrel that came flying at him to end the first inning. There were like two or three broken bats. All in all, I felt good. Everything is progressing right on track. Thats where I need to be.

Milledge making the team?

Carlos Quentin jumped on Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda early, clocking a first-pitch deep to left for his first homer of the spring. In the fourth, the hot-and-cold White Sox offense lit up L.A., courtesy of a sacrifice fly from Lastings Milledge, chased by a two-run homer from an unlikely source, second baseman Omar Vizquel. The White Sox pushed their advantage to five after Juan Pierre doubled in Brent Morel in the seventh.

Will Ohman found his spring streak of perfection snapped by allowing a run-scoring double to Justin Sellers in the Dodgers half of the inning. In the eighth, a Sellers throwing error was responsible for the final White Sox run of the day, as a failed double-play scored Eduardo Escobar.

The biggest hitters on the day were the Chisox most struggling offensively this spring: Quentin, Paul Konerko, and Morel all entered action hitting less than .200 and were the only Chicago hitters to strike two safeties on the day.

Brawny Danks

As his hair is growing back (after Mark Buehrle shaved it early in camp in honor of the St. Baldricks childrens cancer-fighting effort), Danks is letting his face grow long, sporting a beard that may not last too much longer.

Moms coming in town on the 24th, so well see what happens then, Danks said. It will be cold in Cleveland Ive got to have a little face coverage for April 1.

Milledge lasting

Fourth outfielder candidate Milledge continued to state his case for the 25th spot on the roster, playing a flawless center field and going 1-3 with an RBI.

Im happy with the way Milledge is playing right now, Guillen said. Hes playing very good. Catching the ball is very important.

Guillen wasnt worried about Milledge getting picked off of first after leading off the ninth inning with a single.

I want players to create some confidence in spring training to steal bases.

Vote of confidence: Morel

Guillen was pleased to see Morel clock a couple hits (raising his OPS on the spring to .566) and make several sweet plays at third.

Hes fine, he said. As a kid, you are going to be kind of anxious. I wont say he was panicking, but he tried to overdo stuff to impress people. We talked to him about backing up, make sure you are yourself. He swung the bat better today.

Vote of confidence: Flowers

Guillen sees a world of difference in catcher Tyler Flowers this spring compared to prior camps.

Out of everyone, Flowers is the one Im very happy about, Guillen said. That kid came to spring training this year as a different guy. He swings the bat better and more comfortably. Behind the plate, hes outstanding."

Its safe to say that if the White Sox knew theyd see this sort of change in the 25-year-old slugger, hed be breaking camp with the big club instead of seeing his ticket again punched back to Charlotte.

Im pretty excited and happy for this kid, from one spring training to another, Guillen said. Ive talked to everybody about it. Hopefully, no matter where he goes, hell keep up playing this way so people can count on him for the future.

B-Game roundup

The White Sox won their B-Game against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday morning in come-from-behind fashion, 11-8. The game, which stretched more than three hours, was studied closely by the entire White Sox coaching staff: We told players, B-Games count, because were watching, Guillen emphasized. (That he mimed falling asleep during the game was merely for comedic effect.)

On the bump, Cleveland roughed up just two of the White Sox hurlers, Kyle Cofield (two innings, six hits, six runs, five earned runs, and a long triple-home run-home run in back-to-back-to-back fashion) and Miguel Socolovich (one inning, three hits, two earned runs).

Brandon Hynick started the game and acquitted himself well, pitching around three walks in two innings of work. Shane Lindsay stayed hot, throwing two innings with a walk and two strikeouts (pushing his total spring scoreless streak to five innings). Nate Jones finished off the Wahoos, twirling two scoreless innings and allowing a hit and a walk against two strikeouts).

At bat, two likely Charlotte Knights stars let a power surge for the Chisox. Stefan Gartrell had two homers, five RBI, and three runs scored on the day, reaching base three times total. Jordan Danks hit a grand slam as part of a 2-5 day and his brother, John, expressed his pleasure during the afternoon game, saying, Yeah, hes having a great camp. Hes progressing and getting closer to where people thought he would be at this point. Im thrilled to death with how hed doing.

Escobar went 2-5 with two doubles then, as last B-Game, subbed into the spring training game proper, vs. the Dodgers. Alejandro De Aza and Brent Lillibridge both went 3-5 in the game.
Scenes from a B-Game

After Gartrell's first home run, a three-run shot, the Wahoos walked off the field (Clevelands hurler hit his pitch count). When I asked him why he had to ruin a perfectly nice game, Gartrell trotted back out to right field, laughing and yelling, Guess we automatically win! Guess the games over!

Jordan Danks had been taunting Gartrell for being too slow to get to a foul fly down the right-field line but when Gartrell made the next one, a nice grab right at the foul wall, Danks changed his tune and shouted, web gem!

White Sox first base coach Harold Baines, looking on from the sidelines and chiding the Wahoos batboy, whose extreme hustle caused his mullet to fly freely in the wind.

Jim Gallagher was chasing hard after a foul pop, but missed the carom after it hit off a light pole in foul territory and headed back to the field: That scared the ( out of me!

Box Score

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

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

kopech_pod-831.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

SportsTalk Live is on location at McCormick Place to preview SoxFest 2020. Chuck Garfien and David Haugh join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00 - White Sox manager Rick Renteria joins the guys to talk about the team's big offseason and the expectations for the 2020 season. He also talks about how the team with handle Michael Kopech (4:00) and what Dallas Keuchel brings to the rotation. (6:00) Plus, he explains how guys who turned the corner in 2019 like Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada can stay hot in 2020. (15:00)

17:00 - Steve Stone joins the guys to explain how the White Sox rebuild is going according to plan despite not landing one of the top free agents this winter. Plus, he updates his Twitter follower battle with Jason Benetti (23:00) and talks about how he would handle Michael Kopech's return. (25:30)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox reward for winning the offseason: They get to talk playoffs ... or bust

White Sox reward for winning the offseason: They get to talk playoffs ... or bust

The White Sox know there is no trophy for winning the offseason.

Make no mistake, they did win the offseason, Rick Hahn’s front office adding enough veteran cache to vault the 89-loss South Siders from just another rebuilding team with a bright future to a team whose future is pulling into the station.

But there was no self-congratulating at Hahn’s pre-SoxFest press conference Thursday.

“Quite candidly, we haven't accomplished anything yet, we haven't won yet,” he said. “This whole process was about winning championships, was about finishing with a parade at the end of October down Michigan Avenue. Until that happens, I don't think any of us are really in a position to feel satisfied or feel like we've accomplished anything.

“We've had a nice winter. We've had, frankly, in our opinion, a real nice three years since we started (the rebuild) with the Chris Sale trade. We think very bright days are ahead of us, and we look forward to enjoying them. But in terms of feeling like we've accomplished something or feeling satisfied, ask me after the parade.”

Give me a second while I email that last bit over to our marketing department. They might be able to conjure up a few things with “ask me after the parade.”

But in all seriousness, Hahn is right. There is no trophy for winning the offseason. The act of signing free agents does not balance out all the losing over the last three seasons. Only winning can do that.

There has been, however, a reward for winning the offseason. Rick Renteria — and presumably all his players this weekend during SoxFest — get to talk about playoff expectations. Real ones.

“I would be disappointed if we don’t make the postseason,” Renteria said during his own session Thursday. “We want to break through. We want this to be an impactful season.”

As recently as a year ago, no matter how bright the future appeared to be, that comment would have raised eyebrows. It would not have been taken seriously. Now? It is the expectation.

Renteria has not been shy about the rebuilding White Sox turning the corner in 2020. He spent the last few weeks of the 2019 campaign making similar postseason proclamations. But now Hahn has backed his manager up with all this winter’s acquisitions.

The White Sox place in the standings by the end of September still figures to have a lot more to do with Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito and Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson and Luis Robert than any of the individual newcomers, even players as talented and accomplished as Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel. The core is that important. But the outsiders brought in this offseason have embodied the turning tide — and given Renteria the chance to talk seriously about these kinds of big expectations for the first time in his tenure as the South Side skipper.

“I think, man for man,” he said, “now we at least have a little bit more ammunition to be able to go out and compete hopefully on a consistent basis and put those victories on the board.

“I’m not afraid of talking about high expectations and winning. … If we do our job and we go about preparing and hopefully the actions and performances come to fruition, we should be on top of the victory column in terms of wins and losses. And there’s nothing beyond my thought that doesn’t say that I expect us to compete and be in conversation for postseason play.”

Hahn isn’t quite as willing to declare the 2020 season “playoffs or bust” because he’s still got his eye on the long term, the same place it’s been throughout this rebuilding process. That next parade down Michigan Avenue is supposed to be merely the first.

And so while the White Sox can reap the rewards of Hahn’s offseason work in the form of preseason talk, he’ll bask in nothing more than setting up his team for that long-term postseason success.

“I think the expectations are understandably high, at least when you talk to Ricky or the coaches or any of the players or anyone in uniform. Their expectation is that this team is in a position to win in the 2020 season, which is exactly where all of us in the front office would want them to be,” he said. “That said, whether you're talking Jerry (Reinsdorf) or Kenny (Williams) or myself, the entire purpose of this rebuild was to put ourselves in a multi-year position to win multiple championships.

“So the progress that we make in any given offseason has to be viewed not just about what's going to happen in that upcoming season, but what position that puts us in toward accomplishing that long-term goal. We want to make sure that we are well positioned, once that window opens, to win as many championships as possible.

“When that window opens, we're going to find out together. I certainly think the players in uniform think it's going to happen come Opening Day of this year. Whether we're blessed with good health and continued progress from our young players, we're going to find out together.

“But we look at it, in the front office, from a multi-year perspective. The guys in uniform are going to do everything in their power to make it about now, which you've got to appreciate.”

That’s going to be the theme of this weekend, as White Sox fans descend on SoxFest with more excitement than they have in years. This is a White Sox team expected to reach October, and that hasn’t exactly been common, as evidenced by the franchise’s more than decade-long postseason drought.

Hahn can talk about putting the team in good position for 2021 and 2022 and 2023 and beyond all he wants. The fans are finally — and with good reason — thinking playoffs or bust for the upcoming season.

And the manager agrees.

“I see our club, and I want to go into this season thinking I don't want to miss an opportunity,” Renteria said. “That's my goal right now, not to miss this opportunity. Expectations bread opportunities. I'm not afraid of expectations because it breads opportunity. I want to attain and complete those tasks that I think our club is going to have a chance to be able to do.

“I'm not afraid to say it.”

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