White Sox

Danks swept away like a novacaine hurricane

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Danks swept away like a novacaine hurricane

Sunday, April 3, 2011
Posted: 2:36 p.m. Updated: 4:31 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
CLEVELAND With the way he pitched on Sunday, Chicago White Sox starter John Danks might be hoping that another root canal goes awry.

Danks, who spent an hour in a dentists chair during yesterdays game having an old root canal fixed, struck out the first four Cleveland hitters and punched out eight en route to six innings of mostly smooth sailing.

Dankss one rocky moment, while hurling under showering skies, came on a single pitch, a flaccid 89 mph, first-pitch fastball to Orlando Cabrera that the garrulous second sacker deposited deep to Quicken Arena.

I felt good, Danks said. I felt like I was in command pretty much the whole game and made a couple of mistakes that hurt us It was a 0-0 fastball, just trying to get ahead. For most of the game, I was able to do thatit was just a bad pitch, and OC hit it pretty well.

For White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, the momentum of the game changed in the fourth inning, when Alexei Ramirez popped out on a bunt attempt and Carlos Quentin and A.J. Pierzynski were tripled off of second and first, respectively.

The game changed, totally changed, with the bunt, Guillen said. If we put the ball down with the bunt, maybe it would have been a different ballgame. John made only one bad pitch. He pitched very well. He continues to pitch like that, he will win a lot of games.

The Indians added five insurance runs in both the seventh and eighth innings, upping the final to 7-1.

Cabrera improved to 3-6 in his career vs. Danks, with two home runs and five RBI.

Before OC cracked wise on Danks, things were looking sunny for a White Sox sweep of Cleveland. Chicago broke out to a 1-0 lead in the third when Omar Vizquel, starting in the finale in front of the fans who adored him for 11 seasons, stroked his 2,800th career hit. The 43-year-old scored two outs later, on a base tap by Paul Konerko.

The White Sox had designs on an opening-season sweep but had to settle for two of three. Now its on to Kansas City for a short two-game set in hopes of starting the campaign with wins in four of five.

We dont want to lose, Danks said. We want to win every game. But on a personal standpoint, I felt great out there. It felt like I had pretty good command. I was able to throw all of my pitches for strikes and really dictate most of the counts.

We dont have to regroup, it was just one bad game, Vizquel said. We just have to stay sharp and come out and play the right way in Kansas City.
Peavy Watch

Down in warmer, drier locales than sloggy-chilly Cleveland, rehabilitating starter Jake Peavy threw four innings of simulated baseball at Camelback Ranch, throwing 59 pitches and reporting no ill effects.

I do feel a lot better going through this process, he said. The throwing sessions and the treatments with anti-inflammatories have a lot to do with this recovery.

Peavy is recovering from latissimus dorsi surgery last July and has made a swift comeback from that surgery, which reattached a back muscle that had freed itself from the bone.

I did feel stronger, he said. Certainly I could tell I started fatiguing in the fourth, but I did feel better than I did on Tuesday during a 20-pitch side session.

Peavy said that his main aim in his first true action since an 83-pitch outing at the Oakland As on March 19 was commanding his fastball.

There are a lot of young guys swinging in the simulated game, and I could get a lot of swings and misses, he said. But pitching is about fastball command, and thats where it starts.

The confident ace pitched just the first inning from a windup, working from the stretch for his final three frames.

Pitching out of the stretch is where you make your biggest pitches, he explained. You want to feel comfortable in the stretch.

Peavy is next due to start on April 8, for AA Birmingham at Montgomery, where he will stretch himself out longer, with goals of 75 pitches and five innings.

I look forward to the rehab starts and having more adrenaline.

Toof-er

Danks pronounced his ailing tooth OK after the start, feeling no ill effects of root canal cleanup done just 24 hours earlier.

Its all rightIm staying on top of the medicine, said the affable lefty. Im fine. I didnt even notice it out there.
Oh man

The Indians scored five garbage runs late in the game, but the contest shifted from nailbiter to rout on the left arm of Will Ohman, who has struggled in two outings so far this season and will pack a 27.00 ERA for Kansas City tonight.

Theres No concern, he said. Bother? Definitely. I mean, it sounds clich, but Ive been doing this for a while, and its a bad stretch right now. It stinks. But its not something that carries over for the season.

We only have so many guys out of the bullpen. I expect him to do better.

(Pitchout, first)

He do a lot of things. He pitch out twice. First base, he couldnt get there on time.

In his typically wry fashion, Ohman had a good bead on what he was doing wrong on the mound.

Yeah, when you throw the ball over the middle of the plate, guys hit it, and thats what it was, Ohman said. When I left the ball up, they hit it, and when I left the ball over the middle, they hit it Im completely healthy, on the same page with the catcher, just not executing.

As much as White Sox fans may be cringing over the possibility, Ohman is eager to get back on the field and chip away at his four-digit ERA.

Absolutely I want to get back on the horse, he said. It stinks because its early, and you dont want to start off like this. I had a chance to keep us in the ballgame today, thats what I wanted to do. But if this was two bad games in a row in August, it would be exactly the same: Frustrating, but not worrisome.

I did get him right back out there after a tough Opening Day outing, Guillen said. Thats the reason he went back out today. Hopefully, we get him straightened out I worry about players losing confidence, and thats the worst thing that can happen. We are only carrying 11 pitchers. We cant have somebody up every time he pitches. We dont have that luxury.

Doubly troubling for Ohman is the fact that hes one of the new arms in the bullpen, having signed a two-year, 4 million deal with Chicago this winter.

Any time you change teams you want to come in and start off right, he said. Nobody ever wants to be the guy thats not getting the job done.

Triple-play trouble
Guillen joked that he had never hit into a triple play because whenever he came up with two men on base and nobody out, he left the game for a pinch-hitter. But he wasnt joking about how badly Alexei Ramirezs popout on a sacrifice bunt, leading to a triple play, hurt his team.

We are 0-2 bunting, and thats not good, Guillen said. We are going to hit with this lineup, but those little things, we have to do. Its impossible to go perfect, but I expect better things. Our little game has to be better.

Guillen argued the call initially, thinking the ball might have hit the ground before first baseman Carlos Santana snagged it. But upon replay, the manager thought the right call was made.

I thought it bounced first, he said. It was a very close play, so I had to go out there and check it out.

The jefe did sympathize with Pierzynski and Quentin, who were caught standing on second and third as the diving play was made.

I dont know, nobody knows what to do, Guillen said. I was screaming from the bench, and I dont know what I was saying: Stay thereno, come here. But I think that triple play changed the game.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Struggles continue for White Sox starters, but there's not much in the way of alternatives

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USA TODAY

Struggles continue for White Sox starters, but there's not much in the way of alternatives

The White Sox will give Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito every opportunity to iron out their inconsistencies this season. But the numbers have not been good for the two veteran members of the starting rotation, and considering Ivan Nova and Ervin Santana aren't part of the team's long-term plans, how long a leash the newest additions to the starting staff will have remains to be seen.

The sample sizes are small, and questioning how long these two remain members of the rotation does not come without acknowledging that neither seems to be in danger of getting cast out anytime soon. But the numbers have been downright ugly. Nova was lit up by the Baltimore Orioles in Tuesday night's 9-1 loss, inverting the damage the White Sox did against baseball's worst pitching staff a night earlier by allowing nine runs and four homers against a team that's terrorized him throughout his career. He was yanked after four incredibly ineffective innings, the third outing of his five-start season in which he's allowed six or more runs. Santana has made only two starts to this point, and one of them was fine. But his ERA is still an unpleasant 10.38, and he's given up five home runs in his 8.2 innings of work.

All told, the youngsters included with the veterans, White Sox starters own a 6.12 ERA after Tuesday night, one of the highest marks in the game.

Those numbers are not acceptable, no matter how in the thick of rebuilding the White Sox remain. Sure, the win-loss record might not be the most important thing in 2019, and Nova and Santana were not the kinds of upgrades to the starting rotation that were set to fuel a dominant staff. But they were brought in, in part, to be innings-eaters that could save a developing bullpen. Regardless of what you, the White Sox fan, thought about James Shields last season, he did eat innings, ending up as one of a baker's dozen major league pitchers to hit the 200-inning mark. If Nova and Santana aren't going to pitch deep into games — Nova's averaging only a little more than five innings per start, and Santana's averaged fewer than five innings in his two outings — their value on this roster comes into question.

Fans would surely be quick to push the button that jettisons Nova and Santana from this rotation, certainly, given the results to this point, but if the front office decides now or months from now to go down such a path, the question becomes: Who is there to fill that spot on the starting staff?

The in-organization depth is not ideal, even if Dylan Cease is one of the highest-rated pitching prospects in baseball. As well as he's started his season at Triple-A Charlotte — a 1.84 ERA and 14 strikeouts in his first 14.2 innings of the 2019 campaign — the White Sox insist that he needs to build up a significant amount of innings there before he makes what is sure to be an excitement-generating major league debut. If Nova and Santana can linger until July or August, then maybe by then Cease will be the no-brainer option as a replacement. Though if they're still taking their every-fifth-day turns at that point, then perhaps they're no longer a problem significant enough to require a replacement. Quite the Catch 22, you see.

Rick Hahn said multiple times during the offseason that Cease is on a similar track to the one Michael Kopech was on last year. Kopech debuted in late August of 2018, so the expectation could be a similar debut date for Cease. Could Cease be up quicker? It's unlikely in the event that the most compelling reason is that the big league rotation needs a boost. Hahn said throughout last season that what's going on at the big league level will have nothing to do with when the organization's top prospects make their jump to the majors. It would figure that Cease is no exception to that rule. Maybe he could beat Kopech's timeline a bit, should he continue to dominate and not go through the midseason struggles Kopech did at Charlotte last season. But it might not be so significant that it could qualify as "soon."

And so the eye turns to the rest of the Charlotte rotation, which is not well stocked with names that anyone would prefer to the veteran track records of Nova and Santana. There are some big numbers down there, too: Jordan Guerrero has a 6.87 ERA, Spencer Adams has a 8.31 ERA, Jordan Stephens has an 8.80 ERA, Donn Roach has a 9.50 ERA.

Of the non-Cease names starting at Charlotte, Dylan Covey would probably be the most logical choice to fill a vacated rotation spot at the big league level. He made the team's Opening Day roster as a bullpen arm before quickly being dispatched back to Charlotte to work on being a starter. White Sox fans have seen the Dylan Covey Show before, of course, and the reviews weren't great. As a major league starter, he has a career 6.26 ERA. He didn't last five innings in a Tuesday-night start in Charlotte but owns a 2.19 ERA after giving up a couple runs in that game.

There's Manny Banuelos, who has been pretty good for the White Sox out of the bullpen this season. He made a spot start in place of the injured Lucas Giolito in Monday night's drubbing of the Orioles, throwing four scoreless innings. He's got a 2.51 ERA on the year and could move from the 'pen to the rotation if need be, but then there'd be a need for a new long man in the relief corps. Carson Fulmer is unlikely to be moved back into a starting role after a shift to the bullpen last season in the minor leagues. He's had mixed results out of the big league bullpen this season, with a 4.76 ERA.

If you're a member of the "get rid of Nova and Santana" camp, it's unlikely you've made it this far without screaming Dallas Keuchel's name at your screen. Keuchel won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015 and was a featured player in the Houston Astros' resurgence from bottom-of-the-standings laughing stock to World Series champions just two years ago. He's also one of the two most noteworthy victims of this winter's glacially paced free-agent market, still jobless as baseball nears the end of the season's opening month.

Keuchel would be an obvious upgrade to this or any starting rotation across the game, and his unsigned status makes him an option in the strictest sense of the definition. But it would seem mighty unlikely that he would be added to the staff of a team not expected to reach the ranks of the contenders until next season at the earliest. I've heard the argument that the White Sox should offer up a two-year deal and bring Keuchel aboard for the remainder of this season and for the next, when Cease and Kopech start the season in what figures to be a much improved rotation. But if someone wanted Keuchel on a two-year deal, they surely could have had him by now, as reports have talked about a lowered asking price and his willingness to join a team for just what's left of the 2019 campaign.

In other words, if you're waiting for Keuchel to come to the South Side, it sounds like you might be waiting for a while.

Gio Gonzalez? He was a name that was bandied about as an offseason option and is once again a free agent after the New York Yankees recently passed on putting him on their 40-man roster. The White Sox have a history with Gonzalez, yes, but if even the banged-up Yankees don't see a place for him, there might be plenty of other teams that feel similarly.

This is all a fancy way of saying that there aren't many attractive options, and so it's far more likely that the White Sox will stick with Nova and Santana for now and hope they can iron out their struggles. Nova, in particular, doesn't figure to be going anywhere, as the team gave up a prospect to get him this winter and owe him a $9,166,667 salary, the second highest on the team.

These starts have not been fun to watch for White Sox fans — and the vets aren't the only ones who have had them, with Rodon, Lopez and Giolito going through their own early season ups and downs, too — but these are the guys the White Sox are set to keep sending out there, hoping for a turnaround. Because the other options just aren't good ones.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey speak with Charlotte Knights catcher Zack Collins about

-His hot start to the season at the plate (5:30)

-How James McCann helped him with his catching during spring training (7:20)

-How he's changed his approach at the plate this season (13:10)

-What he orders at Chick-fil-A (15:40)

-Why he's not thinking or worrying about getting called up to the majors (17:50)

-An incredible story about Dylan Cease (20:30)

-His thoughts on Tim Anderson's bat flip (28:20) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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White Sox Talk Podcast

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