GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jordan Danks still thinks about the walk-off home run he hit against Oakland last August, because it's frequently brought up in discussions of which he's a part. After all, it's the moment he considers the highlight of his career to date.
Despite that home run -- to date, the only one of Danks' major-league career -- he was sent back to Triple-A only a few days later. Dewayne Wise was brought up in his place and hit .284/.328/.477 over the next month, helping earn him a one-year deal with the White Sox in the offseason.
The numbers are stacked against Danks, with Wise occupying a bench role and Dayan Viciedo, Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios entrenched in starting roles. Not helping Danks' case was a slow Cactus League start -- Danks was banged up and didn't play until Feb. 28, and through his first nine games this spring, Danks had just one hit and two walks.
Lately, though, Danks has come on strong. He went 2-2 with an RBI March 14 against the Angels, and followed that with a 3-5 game against the Cubs in which he homered, doubled twice and drove in five. On Saturday, Danks went 2-4 with two more runs driven in.
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"Better. There's no other word to describe it, I guess," Danks said before the game of how he's feeling at the plate. "Made just a few small adjustments, seeing the ball a little better and getting better pitches to hit and stuff like that."
While Danks' goal over the next two weeks is to make the decision about where he begins the 2013 season difficult, he looks all but destined for Triple-A Charlotte barring an injury. That Danks has already seen time in the majors makes his desire to get back to the White Sox greater, no matter how difficult the task is.
"Once you've been there you don't want to go back. (You're) always looking to stay," Danks said. "Anything I can do to make the decision harder for them, I'm going to try to do that."
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Flowers expects to be back soon
Tyler Flowers was a late scratch from the White Sox lineup Friday with lower back stiffness, although the catcher doesn't anticipate the issue being serious.
"I think it might be sleeping funny or something, maybe a little dehydrated from that 107 (temperature) in Tempe," Flowers said, referencing the White Sox game against the Angels Thursday. "(Head trainer) Herm (Schneider)'s kicking my butt in there so we should be back shortly."
When asked if the injury inhibited his range of motion, Flowers deadpanned "I never had much."
"We’re trying to make sure everyone is ready in two weeks, not just for today," manager Robin Ventura added. "He’s had a lot of time to play and we’ve been giving a lot of at-bats besides catching. So he’ll be ready to go."
Rios out for WBC semifinal
Via USA Today's Jorge L. Ortiz, Alex Rios will miss Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic semifinal contest against Japan after being stepped on in a collision with outfielder Angel Pagan during Saturday's loss to the Dominican Republic in Miami. Rios is fine, according to Ortiz, but will be replaced in Puerto Rico's lineup for Sunday's contest at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Alejandro De Aza and the Domincan Republic won Pool 2 and will play the Netherlands Monday night for a spot in the WBC title game.
More from the sick bay
Jesse Crain is slated to pitch in Sunday morning's B game at Camelback Ranch, his second bit of game action since suffering a hip injury in early March. The White Sox are exercising extra caution with Crain, who was hit on near the hip by a comeback line drive on Friday, as he works his way back into the team's bullpen mix.
"Again, we’re being careful with him," Ventura said. "It’s like he’s in bubble wrap right now, making sure he’s all right."
Reliever Ramon Troncoso left Saturday's game after facing two batters due to a split fingernail. He's expected to be fine in a few days, Ventura said.
On the field
Chris Sale's rough outing (5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR) didn't cost the White Sox a win, as the team's offense picked up where it left off Friday in an 11-5 win over Oakland. Hector Gimenez drove in three, while Conor Gillaspie and Jordan Danks had two RBIs apiece. Gimenez and infielder Steve Tolleson hit back-to-back triples in the Sox' four-run third inning.