Ventura: Sale, Danks likely to be held back at start of spring

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Ventura: Sale, Danks likely to be held back at start of spring

White Sox spring training games start in exactly one month but dont count on seeing Chris Sale or John Danks in any early action.

With the beginning of World Baseball Classic action on March 2, Major League Baseball has pushed up the start of spring training to accommodate teams. The White Sox play against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Feb. 23, which is typically a week earlier than spring training games begin.

Despite the schedule, Ventura said Wednesday the White Sox early plans wont include Sale, who completed a career-high 192 innings last season, or Danks, who had shoulder surgery in August, in the name of preservation.

Were starting really early, and I really wouldnt want him to get going, and probably Sale the same thing, Ventura said in an event at the Gilda Club, a free cancer support community for men, women and children. Probably not start them off when we start playing games. Probably push them back to maybe in the middle, where we would have been anyway, just to save him a little bit.

Ventura, who will enter his second season as White Sox manager, also said his staff has considered a different middle of the order for the 2013 season. Last season, slugger Adam Dunn often manned the third spot in the order. But with only two left-handed hitters in the starting lineup -- leadoff man Alejandro De Aza is the other -- the White Sox might put space in between the two. Alex Rios, who led the 2012 White Sox with 184 hits, a .304 average and 93 runs, is considered a top candidate if Ventura elects to switch up the lineup.

When we start our first game, Dunn might be there, but again were kicking it around, Ventura said. Maybe Rios starts there. With us not having a lot of left-handed hitters right there, you might have to separate him and De Aza a little bit more than you would normally.

Ventura also said the teams plans at third base arent concrete. Free agent signee Jeff Keppinger -- who received a three-year, 12-million deal -- is expected to man the hot corner and is the teams best option for now, Ventura said. But Ventura said Keppinger might not be restricted to third base when hes in the lineup.

I dont know if hes etched in stone, but theres a strong -- right now, thats where hes at, Ventura said. Over the course of spring, it could change as far as doing something else. I would say, as of right now, I would see him there. Not stone. Stronger than parchment.

Matt Davidson stays mentally involved for fourth consecutive game off

Matt Davidson stays mentally involved for fourth consecutive game off

Matt Davidson, despite a .324 batting average and 1.010 OPS, hasn't been in the White Sox starting lineup in four consecutive games. 

For Sunday's series finale against the Cleveland Indians, Melky Cabrera got the start at designated hitter (he banged up his wrist running into a wall in left field foul territory Saturday night) with Jacob May playing in left field. Cody Asche, who started at DH in the White Sox last three games and went 0-10, is on the bench. 

A few things to note about Davidson's absence: They've come against four of the American League's best right-handers in New York's Masahiro Tanaka and Cleveland's Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Entering Sunday's game, though, the White Sox haven't scored in their last 23 innings and only have had one runner reach second base in their last 20 frames. 

Manager Rick Renteria said ostensibly poor matchups for Davidson, who has 12 strikeouts in 23 plate appearances against right-handers this year, haven't been why he hasn't played him.

"It's not so much the matchup," Renteria said. "I think we have other guys we want to go ahead and give them the opportunity to face who they are facing today. Matty has shown he can hit anybody. It has nothing to do with it. It has more to do with putting the guys we have right now in a particular situation to experience this particular club."

Davidson said the gap in starts hasn't been an issue for him, since he's already dealt with a lull in playing time earlier this year. Davidson made his last Cactus League start March 28 and only had one at-bat between then and his regular season debut April 6, when he went 2-4 with a home run, a walk and three RBIs. 

"I'm just staying with my approach, I'm watching video and staying up just like I'd be playing," Davidson said. "As long as I'm doing that I think I'll give myself the best chance I can."

Davidson, who made his four seasons ago with the Arizona Diamondbacks, spent nearly three years in Triple-A after the White Sox acquired him in exchange for closer Addison Reed in December of 2013. When he finally broke through with the White Sox last year, he broke his foot in his first game back in the major leagues and missed the rest of the season. 

So while Davidson's starts and at-bats have been sporadic this season, he's not taking the chances he gets for granted. 

"All of a sudden you spend a couple more years in Triple-A and you see the same thing over and over again, and you really appreciate being up here," Davidson said. 

The White Sox upcoming three-game series should provide opportunities for Davidson to get back in Renteria's lineup, with left-handers Jason Vargas and Danny Duffy starting the first two games of the series for the Kansas City Royals. 

"You will see him in the lineup coming up a little bit more," Renteria said. "But we will continue to mix and match to do what we can to make sure everybody stays capable of what they need to do."

Bulls' Rajon Rondo fined $25,000 for attempting to trip Celtics' Jae Crowder in Game 3

Bulls' Rajon Rondo fined $25,000 for attempting to trip Celtics' Jae Crowder in Game 3

Rajon Rondo's emergence made sure the Bulls played on the edge but one always had to wonder where he would go over the line—an aspect Jae Crowder and the NBA figured out Friday night.

Rondo was fined $25,000 by the NBA for sticking his leg out in an apparent attempt to trip Crowder when Crowder was close to the Bulls' bench late in the first quarter of Game 3 Friday night.

[BULLS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Television replays caught Rondo's leg extending after Crowder hit a 3-pointer right in front of the Bulls' bench.

When asked Rondo claimed that due to an ACL surgery he had several years ago he had to extend his leg to keep it from getting stiff.

"When you tear an ACL your leg gets stiff on you. I always do that," Rondo said. "He may have been so deep on our bench."

Upon investigation from the NBA, it issued Rondo a stiff fine and the increasingly contentious series will take another turn Sunday evening in Game 4.

Rondo is expected to miss the rest of the series with a broken right thumb after being a key to the Bulls taking a 2-0 lead by stealing two wins in Boston last week, averaging a near triple-double.