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.

Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Felix Hernandez has proven for years that he doesn’t need much help.

But the White Sox provided him with three free outs on the bases anyway on Friday night.

Those mistakes allowed Hernandez to hold the White Sox in check as they wasted a 14-strikeout performance from Chris Sale in a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners in front of 25,651 at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale retired 16 in a row to end it, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox dropped back to five games below .500.

“We didn’t run the bases very well tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That ends up costing you. You’re getting something going against them, and it just takes the wind out of your sails. Both guys pitched great.

“They just executed better than we did when they got the chance. Both guys were going strong. The way we ran the bases, we didn’t deserve to win that game.”

Sale (15-7) deserved much better than to lose for the fifth time in his last six decisions.

[MORE: White Sox trade catcher Dioner Navarro to Blue Jays]

Though he allowed a run in the second, third and fourth innings, Sale got on a roll late.

After Adam Lind’s two-out RBI double in the fourth, Sale found an extra gear and retired the last 16 Mariners to hit, including 10 strikeouts. He struck out the side in the sixth and seventh innings and afforded his teammates a chance to rally.

“Thank God we did it early because as everybody saw, when he gets on a roll it’s like lights out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s obviously one of the best pitchers in the league for a reason. We had no chance, really, after the fourth and fifth inning. He got into a groove and got all his pitches working.”

Two of Seattle’s three runs off Sale came on opposite-field drives as Lind doubled to left in the fourth and Franklin Gutierrez homered to right in the second inning. Sale walked none and only allowed five hits and three runs in nine innings. He threw strikes on 88 of 120 pitches.

It was the 13th complete game of Sale’s career and his fifth this season.

“I wanted to find a groove and I felt like after the fourth inning I got into a pretty good groove, that cruising speed I was talking about,” Sale said. “I just tried to lengthen it as much as I could, just fill up as many innings as I could. Just give us a chance to win, keep us in the game.”

While Sale kept his team in the game, they repeatedly took themselves out of it.

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The White Sox had plenty of chances against Hernandez, none better than the bottom of the eighth inning. Trailing by two runs, Avisail Garcia and Tyler Saladino singled on both sides of a J.B. Shuck fielder’s choice. Adam Eaton’s one-out walk knocked Hernandez out of the game after 104 pitches.

But closer Edwin Diaz got Tim Anderson to hit into a fielder’s choice as third baseman Shawn O’Malley made a perfect throw home on the slow roller for a force out. Jose Abreu then fouled out to leave the bases loaded. Diaz retired the side in order in the ninth for his 11th save.

Todd Frazier homered in the seventh inning of Hernandez for the team’s only run, but they should have had more. The White Sox had the leadoff man reach base in five of eight innings started by Hernandez, who allowed a run and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. Hernandez erased two of those five as he picked off Frazier and Shuck in the second and third innings. He also got out of a first-and-third jam in the fifth inning when Shuck lined into a double play and Omar Narvaez was caught leaning.

“That’s the frustrating part,” Ventura said. “You know you’re not really going to have too many opportunities (against Hernandez). You might be able to hit and run or all of a sudden you’re first and third. But if you just take it out of your own hands, that’s where you scratch your head.”

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

The way he dominated the Pioneer League had to boost to Alec Hansen’s confidence. It also prompted his promotion.

When the White Sox sent their second-round pick to Great Falls last month it was in the hope he could rebound from a rough junior season at Oklahoma that caused his draft stock to fall. Once thought to be the potential first overall pick of the 2016 draft, Hansen was selected 49th after he posted a 5.40 ERA and walked 39 batters in 51.2 innings. But Hansen — who made his first start at Single-A Kannapolis on Friday — looked every bit the first-rounder at Great Falls with a 1.23 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 36.2 innings.

“We wanted to put him in a position where there was a little less pressure to start off the season,” White Sox player development director Nick Capra said. “There's always pressure, but it's a little less magnified in the Pioneer League. We wanted to get him on the right road. We did a couple things with him mechanically and he took off with it.”

“We kind of held him hostage in Great Falls a little bit too long. He’s been really good. He’s double-digit strikeouts every night. He’s not walking people.”

Hansen is expected to make two starts at Kannapolis before the team’s season ends. He earned a no decision after he allowed three earned runs and five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in five innings against the Columbia Fireflies on Friday.

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Capra described the mechanical changes the White Sox made with Hansen as minor. Essentially, they want Hansen to take advantage of his 6-foot-8 frame and stay taller and release the ball more quickly. They believe it will help him better command his pitches.

Through 11 minor-league starts, Hansen has walked 18 batters in 49 innings (he also pitched seven innings in Arizona). That’s compared with the 96 batters he walked in 145 innings in college.

“Our player development guys deserve so much credit for the way they've handled it,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “There was a little bit of concern about the confidence part of it, just him taking the ball every fifth day and knowing that we believe in him. Our pitching guys and PD guys deserve a huge amount of credit for just the time they put into it. They really, really know how to make these guys excel and succeed. Been a pretty fun ride to watch and I hope it continues.”

White Sox hope pitcher Colton Turner can 'build' on strong season

White Sox hope pitcher Colton Turner can 'build' on strong season

The White Sox acquired minor-league pitcher Colton Turner from the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday in exchange for catcher Dioner Navarro.  

Turner, 25, has a 1.33 ERA in 44 games this season across three levels with 70 strikeouts in 54 innings. The White Sox assigned Turner, who missed all of 2014 after he had reconstructive elbow surgery, to Double-A Birmingham.

“Ever since he got back (from pitching in Australia), he seems to have hit his stride well,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Fastball/slider mix, good command.

“You can obviously see from the numbers he has done impressive work against righties for a left-handed reliever, which is nice to see.

“We’re going to wait to get to know him better. He’s had a real nice year and we like the stuff, we like the command and we’ll see if he’s able to continue to build on what he has done this year and try to figure out that more in 2017, the role he’ll play going forward.”