Jordan Danks finally gets his shot

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Jordan Danks finally gets his shot

Jordan Danks totaled 406 hits over five minor-league seasons. But he always thought about that first hit in the majors, and how it would happen.

On Friday, it happened.

Danks replaced Dayan Viciedo in the top of the sixth, as the White Sox starting left fielder's hamstrings tightened up. In his second at-bat, he singled off Wesley Wright.

"It's a crazy feeling. You think about it all the time," Danks said. "Everybody wants to come up here and everybody wants to get their first, I was just glad it happened sooner rather than later."

It took Danks just two tries to get his first hit. For Robin Ventura, the wait was similarly short, as he walked in his first career at-bat and singled in his third. He didn't have to wait long to get his first taste of the majors, making his debut a day after joining the Sox in 1989.

Ventura saw plenty of youngsters grow anxious on the bench waiting for their major-league debuts during his 16-year career. He's glad Danks didn't have to go through that.

"You get guys that get called up -- having been a player and see guys that sit without getting in there, the buildup can be a little rough," Ventura said. "It's nice to be able to get him in there and get him an at-bat."

The first at-bat of Danks' major-league career came in the sixth inning Friday against Houston lefty Wandy Rodriguez, the lone remaining Astro from the 2005 World Series team. Danks was 19 in 2005 and in his freshman year at the University of Texas when the Sox ended their 88-year title drought. He was drafted in the 19th round by the White Sox a few months prior, although he opted to continue his playing career under Augie Garrido in Austin.

Growing up in Round Rock, Texas, Danks was a three-hour drive from both Houston and Dallas. He said he didn't grow up an Astros fan -- nor a Rangers fan -- so making his debut against Houston didn't have the added significance of, say, Mark Buehrle pitching against the Cardinals.

He's been connected to the White Sox for a long time. His brother, John, was acquired by the Sox in December of 2006 and has been a rotation mainstay for the last five seasons -- and, with his new contract, could spend a full decade with the organization. Jordan was drafted again by the White Sox in 2008 as a seventh-round selection with high expectations.

Danks didn't fulfill those, as he hit a wall in 2010 while playing in Triple-A. It took him three go-arounds in Charlotte to convince the White Sox he was ready, for there to be an opening in Chicago or both.

While working on his game in the minors, though, Danks did realize his shot may not come with the Sox.

"That was one thing that a lot of guys say, play hard every day, even if you don't get up with the team you're with, somebody's watching and you'll get a chance with somebody," he said.

But the White Sox didn't add Danks to their 40-man roster last December, leaving him unprotected for the Rule 5 draft. Plenty of teams could've selected Danks and given him a chance to win a job out of spring training. But he was passed over and remained with the White Sox, the team that had drafted him twice but had concerns about his offensive development.

Defense has never been a question for Danks. He's been regarded as having a fantastic glove for years. It was his bat that was holding him back.

"Last year, watching him and seeing him progress and what he did in spring training, he's a great outfielder," Ventura said. "Offensively, he's improved for me watching him."

And that improvement -- a .302419.515 slash line with eight home runs in Triple-A -- was enough to convince the Sox to add him to the 40 and 25-man rosters when Kosuke Fukudome went down with an injury.

Danks will turn 26 in August. He turned 22 in his first professional season and didn't have the quick ascension through the Sox farm system some expected. But this week, he finally made it.

"I knew that at some point I would get here," Danks said. "I didn't know if it would be this year. But I was just going to keep plugging away until that time did come."

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez’s teammates gave him a beer shower after he blasted the first home run of his career on Friday night.

But the rookie catcher said it wasn’t the best gift he gave or received in a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins. Narvaez’s father, Omar, was in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field and celebrating his birthday when he son blasted a 377-foot drive to right field.

“It was great, especially because it was my dad’s birthday today,” Narvaez said. “It’s a very special gift for my dad. That’s what I was thinking as I was running the bases. It’s the best thing I could do this day.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Narvaez, who hails from Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela, said his family has been in town all week to see him play. His fourth-inning homer off Twins pitcher Pat Dean put the White Sox ahead 6-0. Narvaez -- who has seven minor-league homers, including two at Triple-A Charlotte this season -- homered in his 111th plate appearance in the big leagues.

“That was awesome,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I’ve been waiting a while because I know he’s got that pop. Took him a little bit, but I was happy for him.”

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

The word electric was used multiple times to describe several young White Sox players on Friday night and it wasn’t hyperbole.

Carlos Rodon tied an American League record with seven consecutive strikeouts to start a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field and Tim Anderson was an all-around force. Anderson turned several double plays and finished a double shy of the cycle and Rodon, who was coming off the best start of his career, struck out 10 to close out a stellar second half. Rookie catcher Omar Narvaez also blasted the first home run of his big league career in the victory.

“This was some electric stuff coming out,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I would say the first seven hitters were better than (Sunday’s start). He just, it looked like his confidence and end of the year, letting it out. It was definitely the best stuff-wise of having it all -- fastball, slider, mix in a change. I think that’s just a big confidence boost for him of getting to that point where he can do that.”

Where Rodon is now compared with 2 1/ 2 months ago is vastly different. Frustrated by a 2-7 start and a sprained wrist sustained when he fell in the dugout, Rodon was about as low as he’s been in his two seasons in the majors. But the North Carolina State-product vowed to treat the second half like an entirely different season when he returned from his injury and he has done just that.

Featuring a fastball that topped 99-mph, according to brooksbaseball.net, and with his wipeout slider in tow, Rodon quickly looked in control against the Twins. He struck out the side in each of the first two innings. Only two of his first seven strikeouts came via called third strikes.

Rodon’s third-inning whiff of John Ryan Murphy moved him into a tie for the team and AL record with ex-White Sox hurler Joe Cowley, who struck out the first seven he faced in a May 28, 1986 loss at the Texas Rangers. Coupled with the three strikeouts to end Sunday’s start in Cleveland (part of 11 overall), Rodon’s 10 straight strikeouts between the two games matched the most by a major league pitcher since Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne did it in 2003.

“He was throwing a lot of strikes,” Narvaez said. “The slider was perfect today. He was at his best today.”

Rodon was only slowed down by a 31-pitch sixth inning as he allowed three runs (two earned). He yielded three hits, walked three and struck out 10 to improve to 7-3 with a 3.45 ERA since the All-Star break. The left-hander struck out 77 batters in 73 innings from July 31st through the end of the season.

“It’s easy to play behind him because it makes my job a lot easier when he’s striking out people,” Anderson said.

Rodon feels the same about the way Anderson has played since he arrived in the majors in June. The rookie shortstop continues to excel even though he has never played more in a season than he in 2016.  

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Anderson headed into the eighth inning with a chance to complete the cycle. Needing only a double after he tripled and homered in his first two at-bats, Anderson grounded out and finished 3-for-5.

He turned on his speed when he tripled off the glove of Byron Buxton in the first inning and scored on Melky Cabrera’s RBI double. Anderson flashed his power when he blasted his ninth home run in the third, a two-run shot that traveled 410 feet. And used his glove and arm to turn several nice plays in the field.

“He’s electric,” Rodon said. “Just watching him develop over this few months here, it’s been incredible. Making those plays in the hole and just swinging the bat great. That’s a guy our team can feed off of when he’s in the lineup.”