Danks ready to take next step

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Danks ready to take next step

Three weeks into a program that has him throwing 50 pitches (fastballs and changeups) off a mound every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, White Sox left-hander John Danks is ready for the next step in his rehab.

"Next week, I start throwing breaking balls, and we'll go from there," said Danks at SoxFest on Saturday, over five months removed from surgery to remove a capsular tear in his left shoulder.

Taking the step to throwing breaking pitches affirms that Danks has remained on schedule throughout the initial tests of how his arm would respond to throwing from the mound again, after he was restricted to playing catch for the first two months of his rehab.

"I haven't had any setbacks. This is my first rehab, so I don't really know where I'm supposed to be but Herm (Schneider) and the doctors--saw them a couple days ago--are very happy with where I'm at."

Where Danks is at is a stage where he is still exercising a bit of caution

"I'm not raring back and throwing it one hundred percent, but there's a little bit on it. I'm not just lobbing it in. I'm trying to push it as much as I can right now safely. I could throw it harder if I wanted to, but it probably wouldn't be in my best interest."

Robin Ventura recently announced intentions to hold Danks, as well as Chris Sale, out of the early games of what will be an extended Spring Training due to the World Baseball Classic, but the announcement didn't faze Danks, or alter his goals.

"I kind of knew that they would take it easy with me," said Danks, "I understand their concern and their caution with me, but at the same time I'm going to work and try to be ready to go."

With approval from Schneider and pitching coach Don Cooper that he's hit all the necessary markers in rehab, the target for Danks remains to be ready, and in the rotation for the start of the season.

"Health-wise, I should be ready by then," said Danks, "I'm going to be disappointed if I'm not ready by then. I feel like I'll be ready before then, but at the end of the day it's Robin Ventura, Rick Hahn, and Kenny Williams's call."

Tyler Saladino, Jose Abreu homer as White Sox tie Padres in Arizona finale

Tyler Saladino, Jose Abreu homer as White Sox tie Padres in Arizona finale

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tyler Saladino hit leadoff on Wednesday, finishing with a home run and a single.

Saladino's first-inning drive was one of eight combined homers hit between the White Sox and San Diego Padres, who finished in a 9-all tie at Camelback Ranch. Before the game, White Sox manager Rick Renteria said that Saladino, who finished 2-for-2, would see most of his playing time at second base.

"He's been developing and continuing to grow every single season," Renteria said. "The flexibility that he brings allows him to be in the lineup over an extended period of time. But we want to make sure we take care of him as we want to do with everybody else, kind of keep them all fresh as much as we can.

"He's developed into a pretty good major league baseball player."

Jose Abreu, Nick Delmonico and Jake Peter all homered for the White Sox. Delmonico led the White Sox with five homers this spring. Abreu went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs.

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Rule 5 pitcher Dylan Covey, who appears primed to make the Opening Day roster, allowed two earned runs in his lone inning pitched. Covey then headed to the bullpen and threw additional pitches there as the White Sox continue to build up his arm strength.

Veteran Anthony Swarzak allowed a run and struck out two in two innings. Reliever Dan Jennings allowed five runs (four earned) and four hits in 1/3 innings.

First-rounder Zack Collins drew a pair of walks in his only plate appearances and scored a run.

The White Sox ended the spring with a 16-15-2 record.

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Zack Burdi headed for the minors, the White Sox 12-man pitching staff is all but set.

The Opening Day roster won't be finalized until Sunday and the White Sox hypothetically could find an attractive candidate to claim off the waiver wire over the weekend. But barring that, it looks as if veteran Anthony Swarzak and second-year reliever Michael Ynoa have made the team after Burdi said Wednesday morning that he'd start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. 

The No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com, Burdi finished the spring with a 6.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Burdi finished his Cactus League on a high note with three strikeouts over an inning on Tuesday, including one of Kansas City four-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. 

"Man, it's been crazy," Burdi said. "Coming in and being the young guy in the locker room and then just progressing and showing a little bit more (comfort) around the guys and the veterans and then just being able to pick their brains and go out every day and try to progress. You get to the innings and you are facing guys you've watched your last 10 years of your life. It has been crazy and definitely something I won't forget."

Burdi lasted the longest this spring out of the cache of highly-touted prospects the White Sox brought to big league camp. Prior to escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam Tuesday, Burdi looked like he would allow a run in a third straight game after a hot start to camp (he only allowed a run in one of his first 10 appearances). But Burdi battled back and struck out Perez on three pitches, one of two straight strikeouts to strand both runners.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has been impressed by Burdi throughout the spring. But he also wants to see the Louisville product continue to work on command in the minors.

"You can't not see his stuff," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited when you see 99, 100, 101. But whether you throw it 101 or 83 like [Mark] Buehrle you have to throw it to the glove with command, change speeds and all that stuff. But he's a big part of our future going forward. He's one of the names."

Burdi said he plans to operate like he has already spring and not pay attention to any of the hype. Though he'd like to play in the majors, Burdi is excited to play alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer in Charlotte.

"Once you get a feel for all this stuff and you feel how cool it is to be in the locker room with all these guys and play with them, of course you want to get back up here," Burdi said. "But at the same time, a lot of my really good friends are on Charlotte and I couldn't be more excited to go down there and play with them and make the most of the season down there."