PHOENIX -- One common school of thought is that if the White Sox struggle out of the gate in April and May, general manager Ken Williams could end up moving some valuable veterans such as starting pitcher Gavin Floyd or potential closer Matt Thornton.
When asked about such a scenario by MLB.com, Williams wouldn't give a definitive response in either direction before the season even begins.
"Potentially, I don't know," Williams said. "But in terms of where we are right now, payroll-wise, there's no stress on our payroll. I wish we had a little bit more to work with, but we have to earn that."
The White Sox payroll sat at an all-in total of $127 million in 2011, which was a franchise record. It checks in around $103 million for 2012.
As for earning that extra room to work with, Williams knows his team enters 2012 with something to prove to the club's fan base.
"I said it a long time ago, you need to earn White Sox fans' patronage," Williams said. "Until we go out there and people say, 'OK,' we are not going to get the support first like some clubs and then have the ability to do whatever. It doesn't work that way."
Sale's transition to rotation an ongoing affair
PHOENIX -- In the highly competitive world of Chris Sale, every start would be like his trip to the mound last Monday against the Reds: two hits allowed in six innings, with six strikeouts.
But after throwing 96 pitches in 4 2/3 innings during the White Sox 6-4 victory over the Brewers on Saturday at Maryvale Baseball Park, Sale understands that his Cactus League showings add up to a work in progress. He yielded eight hits and fanned three as he readies himself to work as a starter during the 2012 season.
"This isn't going to happen overnight," said the 23-year-old, who walked just one and allowed three earned runs. "It's hard to buy into that when you go out there and do that kind of stuff. But at the end of the day, you have to be able to keep your head up and work on the next one."
"It's more important that we stretch him out and get him his pitches," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Sale. "He has stuff and everything else and his makeup of going out there. What he's trying to do and what he does is impressive."
When asked what he has learned about starting this spring, Sale pointed to just the daily routine followed by a starter and pitching more each time out. He has picked the brains of John Danks, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd and Philip Humber, while watching how they work from Day 1 to the day they take the mound.
Sale doesn't worry about any sort of innings limit placed upon his first season moving over from the bullpen, leaving that up to Ventura and his staff.
"At the end of the day, whatever they [have] for me, I'm game for it," said Sale, who has one more Cactus League start, followed by an exhibition start in Houston before opening the Cleveland series on April 9. "They know what they are doing, and I trust them."
"Sometimes you have to protect them from themselves," Ventura said. "I don't know if that's him. But we want him to be around a long time and be healthy."
Jones making a case for relief spot
PHOENIX -- Nate Jones seemingly has gone from another name on the White Sox pitching roster to a contender for one of the final bullpen spots in the course of one Spring Training. Jones finished up Friday night's 6-3 victory over the D-backs by striking out five over two scoreless innings, giving the right-hander a 2.16 ERA in seven games and a team-high 14 strikeouts over 8 1/3 innings.
But the seeds of this change for Jones actually took root in 2011, when he found a comfort zone at Double-A Birmingham by moving strictly to a relief role after starting 28 games in 2010 for Class A Winston-Salem.
"I do feel more comfortable relieving," Jones said. "I feel like I can go out there and go one, two, three innings possibly, and throw everything I have at the time and see what happens."
Jones' primary goal this spring simply has been to come out and throw strikes, which has put him in the group with Zach Stewart, Dylan Axelrod, Brian Bruney and Eric Stults competing for the last two bullpen slots. The team's fifth-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft also employs a bit of delivery deception to his advantage, looking something like a less polished version of Justin Masterson.
"It looks different," said a smiling Jones of his delivery. "I go straight back instead of making the loop. But it works. As long as I keep throwing strikes, I'll keep doing it.
"That's something the guys kind of poke fun at me [about] a little bit. But it has always been like that."
Fukudome gets time in left field
PHOENIX -- Kosuke Fukudome, who has never played a regular-season game in left field, got the start there during Saturday's 6-4 victory over the Brewers. Manager Robin Ventura specifically wanted him in left because Fukudome potentially could end up there late in a game.
"He can play anywhere. He can probably play infield, really, if you wanted him to," said Ventura of Fukudome. "He's just a fundamentally sound baseball player."
Fukudome is hitting .265 (9-for-34) during Cactus League action.
Third to first
Minor League infielder Greg Paiml was traded to Atlanta for cash considerations. The White Sox took Paiml in the 15th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
Brian Bruney struck out four over 2 1/3 innings of relief in Saturday's 6-4 victory over the Brewers, furthering his cause for one of the last two open relief spots. Bruney has 12 strikeouts over 10 1/3 Cactus League innings.
"He has an idea of what he wants to do and throws strikes, spots very well," said Ventura. "He has been impressive."