GLENDALE, Ariz. — You don’t have to shy away from discussing how crowded the White Sox roster is with Jordan Danks.
Now in his third big league camp, the 27-year-old is acutely aware how many players are competing for a limited number of spots in the outfield.
Courtesy of general manager Rick Hahn’s active offseason, Danks isn’t alone in his battle. Whether its trades that yielded prospects or more money pumped into the farm system, White Sox manager Robin Ventura has far more “options” as Hahn likes to call them throughout the roster. Those additional bodies promise to leave Ventura with plenty of tough decisions to make before the White Sox head back to the Midwest.
While it’s a good problem for the organization to have, players just on the cusp of the majors might not agree.
In the midst of his best camp to date, Danks knows what he’s up against. But instead of worrying about where he’ll land to start the season, Danks has chosen to instead make matters difficult for management.
“That’s the goal,” Danks said. “Obviously I didn’t have a for-sure spot on the team and so the goal was to make the decision hard for them. It’s one thing my parents always instilled in me -- if you don’t make the team at least make the decision hard for them.”
The way they performed in September and with how the roster was constructed, you could have made a strong case for Danks and Marcus Semien on the 2014 opening day roster.
Then came the additions of Jose Abreu, Matt Davidson and Adam Eaton and the return of Paul Konerko without subtracting any veteran position players.
Throw in the Leury Garcias, Micah Johnsons and Carlos Sanchezes and suddenly the White Sox roster had minimal breathing room.
“It is a good thing,” player development director Nick Capra said. “We haven’t had a ton of depth before and now we’re getting that, especially in the middle of the infield. Those are the premium positions that you look for and hopefully we’re getting there.”
But the additional talent arrived concurrently with the best surge of Danks’ career.
After a transient start, often shuttled back and forth to the minors, Danks has shown signs he has achieved a new level of confidence.
Given the chance to play routinely over the last month of 2013, Danks had a .247/.340/.424 slash line with three home runs and nine RBIs in 97 plate appearances. He entered the offseason feeling good about his performance, knowing he had finally begun to show what kind of player he could be.
Late in the season, Danks said he took a mental picture of how confident he felt to remind himself this spring. Through nine games Danks is playing as well as Ventura can remember in three springs. He has a .318/.348/.682 line with two homers and five RBIs in 23 plate appearances.
But it might take a trade involving Alejandro De Aza or Dayan Viciedo for Danks to crack the roster.
“We have a lot of guys that there will be tough decisions,” Ventura said.
Danks doesn’t have to be told.
He’s not paying attention to trade rumors that have Viciedo going here or De Aza there. He just wants Ventura and Hahn to notice how well he’s playing and leave it at that.
“That’s one of our sayings in the minor leagues: you don’t like it, play better,” Danks said. “I’m just trying to go about my business every day and perform the best I can and whatever happens we’ll see. As long as the decision’s hard I’ve done my job.”