CHICAGO -- The White Sox might make a trade with the Atlanta Braves in the three weeks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Then again, the organization that famously went "all in" during the past offseason and raised its payroll to a franchise-record $127 million might stand pat with what it has. But nothing should be considered as imminent simply because Dave Yoakum and Bill Scherrer, special assistants to general manager Ken Williams and highly respected talent evaluators, have been watching the Braves over the past two or three series.
Atlanta stands as one of 29 Major League destinations covered by Yoakum and Scherrer, who are not special-assignment guys. So their respective location could be the basis of a trade or could just be part of their regular travels.
Making a deal with the Braves would make some sense for the White Sox. Dayan Viciedo is ready and waiting at Triple-A Charlotte, hitting his 16th home run on Thursday night and raising his RBI total to 62. The White Sox could potentially move a piece such as right fielder Carlos Quentin, who becomes a free agent after the 2012 season and would give the pitching-rich Braves a boost on offense, and the White Sox could get young, Major League-ready pitching in return.
But it was Williams who told MLB.com in early June that Viciedo and Quentin don't have to be an either/or proposition and ultimately could play in the same outfield. So, there's a strong possibility the White Sox remain as they are when July 31 passes.
"I never get in involved with deals," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't have any money or the power. I just manage what I got. If any deal is being made, Kenny will tell us what he has in mind. We have a pretty good ballclub. We just aren't playing good."
Danks lets loose, headed toward rehab start
CHICAGO -- John Danks threw a 45-pitch bullpen before Thursday's series opener with the Twins, and estimated he went all out on 35 or 40 of those pitches.
"It was like I was getting ready for a game," said Danks, who has been out since June 26 with a strained right oblique. "Today was an encouraging day. I let it go. I felt good and still feel good, which is a good thing.
"With the first few, I was trying to get a feel for it and then I finally just said, 'You know what, I've got to do it and let it go.' And I felt good the rest of the way. I'm encouraged by that for sure."
Danks will make an injury rehab start on Sunday and probably will make a second one July 15 before rejoining the team. Triple-A Charlotte is at Gwinnett on Sunday and hosts Louisville the following Friday. The Knights are also the home of outfielder Jordan Danks, John's younger brother.
"I'd love to play with Jordan," Danks said. "If they're there and that's an option, that's definitely where I would prefer to be."
Konerko hits third to get more at-bats
CHICAGO -- There's one primary reason why White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen moved Paul Konerko, the American League's Final Vote winner, to the third spot in Thursday's order and sent Adam Dunn to fourth. He wanted Konerko to get a chance to hit in the first inning.
"I'm tired of seeing Paul Konerko leading off in the second inning," Guillen said. "Every time we get there, PK is leading off. I want him to get a shot in the first inning to see how we can go.
"Last couple of games, I see PK leading off, and it's not good for the ballclub. I want to get him as many at-bats as I can."
Dunn had a breakout moment from his season-long struggles with two hits, including a two-run homer, in Monday's victory over the Royals. But Dunn has gone hitless in 11 at-bats with eight strikeouts over the next three games, falling to .163 with 113 strikeouts after Thursday's 6-2 loss to the Twins.
Konerko has been the cleanup hitter for 83 games this season, with just 46 first-inning plate appearances. He's hitting .359 and has 16 RBIs in the first but is hitting just .265 with five RBIs in the second inning. He was 8-for-17 with two long balls as a three-hitter in 2010, and for Konerko's career as a No. 3 hitter, he carries a .283 average with seven homers and 30 RBIs.
If Konerko gets pitched around with Dunn behind him, Guillen would change the order again. But wherever Dunn hits, he would like a big finish to this otherwise forgettable first half.
"Yeah that'd be nice to get it going a little bit before the All-Star break," Dunn said. "Then, I can take some time off, figure out some stuff and come back the second half and hopefully turn it around."
White Sox second-half rotation not aligned
CHICAGO -- Pitching coach Don Cooper said the White Sox second-half rotation would be set in the next day or two, with manager Ozzie Guillen reiterating how they are waiting to see if Philip Humber is picked as an All-Star replacement before anything is made official.
Considered a spot-starter when the 2011 season began, Humber could pitch against Justin Verlander at Comerica Park to start the second half if he isn't chosen to play in Tuesday's All-Star Game. In regard to the rest of the rotation, Guillen isn't worried about how his starters have matched up in the past against the Tigers, Royals and Indians, whom the White Sox will face in a nine-game, American League Central road trip.
"Matchups during the game? Yes. But matchups are overrated unless you are in playoffs or World Series," Guillen said. "In your division, sooner or later you are going to face a guy. A lot of people have different opinions, but when you throw the ball good, I don't care who you face."
Third to first
Ozzie Guillen paid his respects to Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams, who passed away Thursday at 82. Williams was Guillen's manager for his first big league camp with the Padres. "A great baseball man, a winner," said Guillen. The White Sox are 6-27 in their last 33 games against the Twins. White Sox relievers have a 0.99 ERA in their last 20 games, covering 63 2/3 innings. Juan Pierre is hitting .395 in his last 11 games.