CHICAGO -- Chris Sale admits to having looked up at radar guns during recent starts and thinking that he was throwing harder than the readings showed.
But in moving from late-inning reliever during the 2011 campaign to front-line starter in 2012 and fast approaching his single-season high of 136 2/3 innings, the velocity drop was expected by the 23-year-old White Sox southpaw.
"I didn't expect myself to be throwing hard the entire season, especially getting into August and September," said Sale, speaking prior to Sunday's game and before his return to the starting rotation Monday against the Royals. "For right now, it's just finding a way.
"Whatever I've got on a given day, you've got to go out there and keep pitching. You can't get down on yourself on days where you might not have your best stuff. You've still got guys that are fighting to win and you've still got to go out there and fight to win with them."
Sale pitches Monday after getting nine days off in between starts. Manager Robin Ventura said there will be no set pitch count on Sale, but the length of his outing will depend more on how he feels.
The two sides have maintained open lines of communication throughout his first year as a starter, which has produced three extended rests for Sale. The American League Cy Young candidate felt really good during a bullpen session Friday and might just have an extra mile or two on his fastball against the Royals.
"We'll see. Like I said before, if it's there, then cool. If not, you've still got to pitch," Sale said. "It doesn't matter how hard it's going. Just whatever it is, you've still got to make pitches and get outs. Whether it's hard, soft, slow, in, out, up, whatever. You've got to get outs somehow."
Working through a slight dead-arm period and not having his best stuff has taught Sale more about the art of pitching.
"Those are the days you've got to fight," Sale said. "I don't want to say it's easy, but pretty much anybody can go out there with good stuff and be good. Those days when you don't have your best stuff, your arm's not quite feeling right, those are the days you've got to dig deep and just find a way.
"Just keep the ball down and make pitches. Pitching is pitching, and you've still got to go out there and get outs. Hey, sometimes they don't even know you're having a bad day so that's the most important part."
Pierzynski wants to return, but would consider Cubs
CHICAGO -- A.J. Pierzynski wants to stay with the White Sox after his two-year, $8 million contract expires at the end of the 2012 season.
It's a sentiment expressed by the catcher on numerous occasions. If the White Sox ultimately choose to go in a different direction, Pierzynski still wants to keep playing. And if Chicago becomes a city where Pierzynski would like to stay, then he wouldn't rule out overtures from the Cubs even after eight years on the South Side.
"Look, if I wanted to keep playing and they were the best option and they were the only option it would be hard to say no to any team," said Pierzynski of the Cubs, who traded catcher Geovany Soto to Texas at the non-waiver Deadline but still have Wellington Castillo and Steve Clevenger. "Would it be weird? Yeah. But at the same time, like I said, if they wanted me and they were the best option at the time, it would be hard to say no.
"Obviously I want to win, but it's about whatever the best fit is. It's not always about the money. At the end of the day, money is nice but at the same time, it comes down to more where you feel like you fit in the best, where you feel comfortable.
"Winning is a huge factor, but location for me is a huge factor with two young kids that are in school. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding what's going to happen. Obviously I'd love to stay here, but at the same time I know how it works so we'll see what happens."
Pierzynski certainly has given the White Sox plenty of reason to consider bringing him back, reasons beyond his strong handling of a young pitching staff. He homered in a fifth straight game during Sunday's 4-2 victory over the Angels, matching a franchise record done six other times, and giving him 21 for the year. Pierzynski, 35, is the oldest player to hit 20 for the first time in his career since Tony Phillips was 36 when he connected on 27 for the Angels in 1995, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Those 21 homers give Pierzynski the Major League lead among catchers. Decisions on player options and free agents won't really be made by the White Sox until after the 2012 season.
Danks to have shoulder surgery on Monday
CHICAGO -- John Danks will be at Rush University Surgical Center by 6 CT Monday morning in preparation for exploratory surgery on his left shoulder.
"I'm not exactly excited about going in, but I'm ready for it to be fixed and healed and get moving on with just getting back to being healthy," the White Sox pitcher said. "That's kind of the key. It's been so long since I've been truly healthy. I'm excited about getting everything fixed and kind of starting clean next year."
Danks, 27, has been out of action with a left shoulder strain since beating the Cubs on May 19 at Wrigley Field. He was on board with trying to treat the strain non-surgically, but as he told MLB.com recently, there comes a time where he had to start focusing on getting healthy for 2013.
In talking with the doctors, who will fix whatever problem they find, Danks remains confident that the injury won't be serious enough to cost him much or all of next season.
"They've looked at it; they're going to look at it tomorrow," said Danks. "I don't anticipate there being anything other than what they think there is.
"I don't have any other reason to believe otherwise. We won't really know until we get in there tomorrow."
Third to first
Paul Konerko snapped an 0-for-18 streak with a single in the first inning of Sunday's 4-2 win over the Angels. He ended the day with three hits. Dayan Viciedo snapped an 0-for-12 drought with a single in the seventh, and Gordon Beckham snapped an 0-for-15 run with a single in the seventh.
Robin Ventura said the team was "still working" on the rotation for next weekend's home series against Oakland.
Entering Sunday, the White Sox led the Majors with a .294 average with runners in scoring position, including a .319 mark at home. They were the only team with four players ranking in the top 25 in average with RISP: Alex Rios (.389, third), Alexei Ramirez (.362, ninth), A.J. Pierzynski (.357, 12th) and Konerko (.342, 21st).