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."

White Sox Talk Podcast: Nate Jones reflects on winning gold at the World Baseball Classic

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Nate Jones reflects on winning gold at the World Baseball Classic

Nate Jones was looking for something to do today (we kid), so he came on the White Sox Talk Podcast to speak with Chuck Garfien and gave what he said is the longest interview of his career (not kidding). 

Fresh off winning a gold medal at the World Baseball Classic, Jones spoke about the experience, what he did with his gold medal and why he chose to play in the tournament while other top Americans like Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw decided to skip it. Jones also gave a scouting report on some of the White Sox young pitchers and explains how Jose Quintana stays focused despite all the trade rumors.

Later, Chuck is joined by White Sox CSN producers Rob Wiatrowski and Slavko Bekovic to talk about the Peter Bourjos trade that opens the door for Jacob May to win the starting job in centerfield.

Plus, is Deadspin trolling the White Sox? AJ Pierzynski joins Fox Sports and CSNChicago.com Insider Dan Hayes calls in from Arizona to give his predictions for the White Sox Opening Day roster.

Check out the latest White Sox Talk Podcast right here:

White Sox reward Jacob May with starting job after all-out performance

White Sox reward Jacob May with starting job after all-out performance

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The biggest benefactor of the Peter Bourjos trade is Jacob May, who is set to take over as the White Sox starting center fielder.

The White Sox completed a deal on Tuesday that sent Bourjos to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations or a player to be named later.

The move not only assures May that he'll be on the Opening Day roster, but the White Sox prospect should see significant playing time with Bourjos out of the picture. Manager Rick Renteria said May's all-out play this spring earned him the opportunity to play at least five days a week. May went 2-for-4 with a run for the White Sox in a 7-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium on Tuesday.

"I don't think it does us any good to bring up a young person like that and just sit him," Renteria said. "He would have to be a person that's going to end up playing a significant amount of time in center field.

"Jacob really ran with (the opportunity) a little bit. Defended really, really well, had some good at-bats."

A third-round pick out of Coastal Carolina in 2013, May has a strong baseball bloodline. His grandfather Lee May blasted 354 home runs in an 18-year career and his great uncle Carlos May was a two-time All-Star for the White Sox. May received congratulations from both on Tuesday morning.

But Jacob May entered camp below Charlie Tilson and Bourjos in the pecking order. Tilson was expected to get the first shot to be the starter until he experienced setbacks in his rehab, which opened the door for May. May said he used his underdog status as motivation and dazzled the White Sox with an array of nice catches and plus speed on the bases. A switch hitter, May entered Tuesday's contest hitting .339/.361/.525 with six extra-base hits and four steals in 61 plate appearances.

"I had nothing to lose," May said. "Honestly I came into this spring feeling personally as a darkhorse in this whole thing. Not someone that is really talked about a lot, which is fine with me. I don't really care about that stuff. It gave me a little chip on my shoulder. People didn't expect too much from me. I know the organization knows what I'm capable of doing, which is all that really matters."

May's performance made the White Sox comfortable enough to move Bourjos. He said initially heard from friends and family after word of the Bourjos deal spread late Monday night. But May didn't officially find out until he was pulled into Renteria's office on Tuesday morning and was informed of his new status.

Though May said the news is bittersweet because Bourjos mentored him this spring and became a friend, he couldn't help but smile.

"It's still kind of a little bit of mixed feelings," May said. "He's one of your friends and a teammate...

"I mean, my whole life I've been dreaming about this. Since I was a little kid, I've been around locker room and around players. It's a little surreal."