Monday, March 26, 2012
To John Danks, who was named Opening Day starter by White Sox manager Robin Ventura after today’s game.
“He’s that guy for us,” Ventura said. “When I look in his eyes, I like what I see.”
Danks has the added pleasure of starting the game in his home state of Texas as the White Sox face the Rangers at 1:05 p.m. CT on April 6. Hook’em Horns.
Ventura added that Jake Peavy would pitch game two, with Gavin Floyd starting game three.
“I’m happy with our guys,” he said. “I like where they’re at.”
Spring Training Notes
With about one week remaining in camp, it seemed like the right time to send along some of the key positive story lines we have enjoyed here in Glendale as we prepare for Opening Day on April 6 and the U.S. Cellular Field home opener on April 13. Over the past few days, I’ve asked staff, coaches and other observers to name their biggest/best surprises from the spring, and in no particular order, here is the list:
- The New Manager, Coaches and the Mood in Camp – For those of you who know him, it has been amazing to see Robin Ventura’s unruffled karma spread through camp. There is an incredible amount of positive teaching going on – the coaching staff jokes about “Coaching Up” — and there is an efficient focus on details and fundamentals in camp. We have been able to see this attention to detail exhibited in games in terms of outfielders hitting cut-off men, bunting (both as sacrifices and for base hits) and our ability to harass the opponents’ running game. Almost every person I asked, listed this as the biggest positive for the spring.
- Adam Dunn and Alex Rios – With four home runs, 12 walks and only three strikeouts so far this spring, Adam Dunn has looked very much like the Adam Dunn of 2012, not the Adam Dunn we saw post appendectomy in 2011. Alex Rios connected on his first home run of the spring yesterday, but it has been his work ethic that has impressed to date. Prior to the game yesterday, he was the last player off the field after batting practice, staying behind to hit off a tee with hitting coach Jeff Manto. All were happy to see him rewarded later in the game.
- Quality Starting Pitching Day in and Day Out – After a rough start to the spring, the White Sox starting rotation has really been impressive over the past 10 days. White Sox starting pitchers are 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA (7 ER/24.2 IP) during the team’s current three-game winning streak and 5-1 with a 2.96 mark (17 ER/51.2 IP) over the last 10 games from 3/17-26 (Sox are 7-3 during that span). Philip Humber threw 7.0 IP (one unearned run) on 3/25 vs. San Francisco, Chris Sale worked 6.0 scoreless IP on 3/19 vs. Cincinnati and Jake Peavy went 5.0 scoreless IP on 3/17 vs. Seattle.
- Impressive Infield Defense – In Brent Morel, Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham and Paul Konerko, we believe we have one of, if not the best, defensive infield in the division and arguably in the American League. If you missed Gordon’s most-recent gem, see it, here. Watch Alexei’s circus play today, here
- Bullpen As a Real Strength To This Team – While Robin Ventura has not yet chosen a bullpen closer, the spring performances of LHP Hector Santiago, RHP Addison Reed and RHP Nate Jones have impressed. Names like those add to the depth of a real team strength, joining established pitchers like Matt Thornton, Will Ohman and Jesse Crain. It’s still too soon to tell how the bullpen mix will ultimately fall out, but GM Ken Williams, Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper have many very solid options based on what we’ve seen this spring.
- Minor Leaguers Impress – Each spring, a few minor leaguers impress in big league camp and become names to follow during the season. This year was no different. Seeing Jared Mitchell healthy and running well was a real pleasure, and a young middle infielder, Tyler Saladino, caught everyone’s eye, even receiving a rare “call up” to major league camp after arriving in Glendale for minor league mini camp. They will be fun to follow throughout the minor league season.
- A.J. Pierzynski’s New-Found Speed – I actually only added this line to see if you had read this far, but for those of you who missed his inside the park home run due to early bed times in Chicago, here are the fastest 17 seconds of the spring. If you did not read about it and chuckle, as A.J. rounded third base, former 2005 White Sox teammate Geoff Blum, now a Diamondbacks third baseman, called out, “You gotta go, Tubby.”
A White Sox front office executive (not me) was at Scottsdale’s Fashion Square Mall recently when he was frozen in semi wonderment as a pristine white Rolls Royce car came up the street toward them. As it reached the group, it slowed perceptibly, rolling slowly up to them. The group, which included kids, grew a little uneasy.
Suddenly, it stopped and the door flew open. A large Dominican leaped out and smothered our executive in a great big bear hug.
It was none other than Juan Uribe!
“Juan! A Rolls Royce?” he questioned.
“Uribe!” came the smiling response (how can you argue with that).
Note: For a long time, this executive believes that Uribe thought he signed his pay checks, which might explain the warm welcome.