GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Although they won’t have John Danks to start the season, general manager Rick Hahn thinks the White Sox can sustain in the short term. The first-year GM said Tuesday that the front office’s projections include several scenarios where the club is without Danks for varied periods of time.
The Sox placed Danks -- who had shoulder surgery last August -- on the 15-day DL on Tuesday.
As long as he returns and contributes this season, Hahn believes the White Sox are headed for the postseason among other reasons because of their pitching depth. He also doesn’t seem to mind that the White Sox won’t be picked to win the American League Central.
“It depends on the length of the delay, but (the affect is) not huge initially,” Hahn said. “Obviously the longer it lingers the more impact it has. But we do feel good about (Dylan) Axelrod and (Hector) Santiago and what they’ll be able to contribute. … We fully intend and believe we’re capable of making the postseason regardless of what any projections have.”
Hahn suggests he won’t pursue a pitcher if it appears Danks will return relatively soon. But if it appears Danks, who was limited to nine starts last season, needs a long time than Hahn could start to shop around. Danks has made good progress since late October but his velocity hasn’t returned at full strength and Hahn isn’t certain when it might come back.
“There’s really not a time frame,” Hahn said. “As we’ve talked about for months now, you’re dealing not only with an injury, you’re dealing with a pitcher injury and a shoulder injury on a pitcher so it’s very hard to predict what exactly the end game is going to look like. It’s very rarely a linear progression from surgery to regaining full strength and returning to form with a specific road map for it. … If he continues to progress the way he has over the last several months since the surgery, he’s absolutely going to contribute and we feel in a big way, not only this year, but obviously for several years, too.”
Another aspect Hahn likes about his club: the White Sox found a way to add a left-handed bat without compromising Dayan Viciedo’s playing time. As he searched for a bat to replace A.J. Pierzynski this offseason, Hahn found few options that would have allowed Viciedo to play full-time. Nearly everyone was complement to Viciedo, whom the team believes has superstar potential.
Hahn’s solution was to acquire backup third baseman Conor Gillaspie from the San Francisco Giants in February. With Gillaspie, Dewayne Wise and Hector Gimenez off the bench, Hahn thinks the White Sox can avoid having a right-handed dominant lineup and still play Viciedo.
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“One of the reasons we did not go out and do that is because we want to give guys like Viciedo a chance to develop and fulfill his potential,” Hahn said. “If we had gone out and big-footed him with a big left-handed offensive bat and turned him into a platoon player, we are stunting a 24-year-old’s development who we feel has a very high ceiling. It was important to us to get those complementary types who gives Robin the flexibility and gives him the chance to play the matchups as they arise.”
With the long spring coming to a close and the White Sox in a rut this past week, Hahn knows his club is ready to break camp. But he’s also optimistic about the regular season.
“They’re certainly right in saying that Detroit is the cream of the crop in this division and is the team we’re all hunting,” Hahn said. “I also feel this division is more competitive this year and because of that nobody will run away and hid from anybody. We were sitting here in ’06 and everyone projected us to win 100 games and we were the hunted. Frankly I prefer to kind of surprise people than have these expectations that we’re the team to beat.”