DETROIT -- Despite posting 28 homers and 85 RBIs for Triple-A Charlotte, Dan Johnson's name wasn't called for a trip to the White Sox until rosters expanded on Saturday. The 33-year-old veteran didn't allow being overlooked to slow down his daily work for the Knights.
"This game is obviously a lot of mental toughness," Johnson said. "If you let anything bother you, you are not going to be able to capitalize on your year or get anything done. Knowing that, you kind of put it to the side and just go out and play like you would play anywhere else.
"I mean, I guess it's one of those things if anything happens, you feel like maybe it's this time. You still have to take every day the same. Do your job and work hard."
The White Sox also reinstated catcher Tyler Flowers from paternity leave, where he was placed on Aug. 30 for the birth of his first child, Mia Therese. Infielder Orlando Hudson and left-handed pitcher Leyson Septimo were returned from their injury rehab assignments at Charlotte and reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, while right-handed pitchers Deunte Heath and Brian Omogrosso were recalled from Charlotte.
These six moves left the White Sox active roster at 31 and the 40-man full. With Charlotte in the International League playoffs, more moves could be coming. Manager Robin Ventura said that players won't be added just for experience, as there has to be a fit.
It didn't take long for Johnson to get into action. The man who topped the International League in homers and walks (94) took Adam Dunn's spot at designated hitter when Dunn was scratched with a sore right oblique and finished 1-for-3 in Saturday's 5-1 loss.
"I've been around enough to know that there are no excuses," said Johnson of sporadic playing time. "I have ways to keep myself as ready as possible and just go out and do your job."
"He's a professional hitter," said Ventura of Johnson. "You can count on him and he's always up there with tough at-bats."
Oblique strain sidelines Dunn against Tigers
DETROIT -- White Sox DH Adam Dunn was scratched from Saturday's starting lineup against the Tigers with a sore right oblique, which he first felt while checking his swing in the first inning of Wednesday's game in Baltimore.
Dunn, who has never suffered through a problematic oblique, tried to play through it during Thursday's afternoon's series finale in Baltimore and then in Friday's opening contest at Comerica Park. But after taking early swings on Saturday, he was replaced at designated hitter by Dan Johnson, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday afternoon.
"Today it's way worse. I went and tried to hit, and I can't. My luck, you know," Dunn said. "Yesterday was pretty bad. And if it didn't get any worse, that's fine. I swung and missed a lot yesterday, and it probably didn't help."
"At first he said it wasn't that bad," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of the origin of Dunn's injury. "Watching him last night, I could see it. I convinced him today he wasn't going to play. He thinks he can play."When asked what sort of activity caused the pain, Dunn said breathing, sneezing and even coughing, let alone baseball activities.
"Everything, everyday life. Life hurts right now," Dunn said. "But [White Sox athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider] has seen a lot of these in his life, so he's got a pretty good little program for this. Hopefully I'm a pretty quick healer and it will be good to go tomorrow."
A 7:05 p.m. CT start Sunday night will benefit Dunn, giving him plenty of time for extra treatment. Oblique injuries often turn into trips to the disabled list, but the man leading the Majors with 38 homers said that sort of down time is not an option.
"I'm putting a time on it: tomorrow," said Dunn of his potential return. "Again, I think if this was life and death, I would probably go out there. We still have a lot of games left. I don't want to be too stupid.
"I probably shouldn't have gone out yesterday. But I've been waiting for this playoff atmosphere sort of thing and something stupid like this happens. I wasn't going to let it keep me out. Now, looking back, I probably shouldn't have played yesterday and hopefully it would have been OK today. Hopefully it will be OK tomorrow."
Santiago gets starting nod for opener vs. Twins
DETROIT -- Left-hander Hector Santiago will start Monday's series opener against the Twins, as announced by White Sox manager Robin Ventura prior to Saturday's contest with the Tigers.
Dylan Axelrod was thought to be in line for that start, especially after giving up one run on three hits over 7 1/3 innings in beating Baltimore on Aug. 29. But Axelrod was reassigned to Double-A Birmingham after the game, and the Barons' season doesn't end until Monday afternoon. So Axelrod won't be eligible to return until Tuesday.
Ventura said Axelrod will get recalled to the Majors, but added that he had Santiago in mind to start against the Twins all along.
"I liked the way he pitched last time out," said Ventura of Santiago, the one-time White Sox closer, who allowed two runs over four innings during his longest stint of the year on Aug. 26 against the Mariners. "He was scheduled to do that anyway. So we'll just leave him there."
Sale eager for challenge of opposing Verlander
DETROIT -- Chris Sale doesn't need to be reminded of Justin Verlander's impressive resume to know the toughness of his mound opponent on Sunday night.
"Cy Young, MVP, he's one of the best and he has been like that for a while," said Sale. "There's no indication of that slowing down. We know what we've got ahead of us, but we have to go out there like it's any other game."
Sale is tied for third in the American League with 15 victories and ranks fourth with a 2.81 ERA. Verlander sits third with his 2.80 ERA and leads the AL with 198 strikeouts, 43 more than Sale. Yet, Sale is not letting himself get caught up in the hype of the matchup.
"I try not to listen to buzz or anything," Sale said. "It's an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as him. You see what he does early in the game.
"It's kind of like he progressively gets better as the game goes. We have a heck of a lineup, and it's not easy to breeze through our guys, so we'll put up a good fight."
Third to first
Mike Gellinger, the well-respected White Sox assistant hitting coach, blacked out at his hotel Wednesday in Baltimore and suffered trauma to his vertebrae, according to White Sox general manager Ken Williams. He will be flying home from Baltimore on Sunday for further testing after recovering in a local hospital.
Alejandro De Aza is on track to return to the White Sox Sunday. The leadoff man and center fielder has been sidelined by bruised left ribs and is on an injury rehab assignment after being placed on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 18, but manager Robin Ventura said postgame Saturday that it was not a lock De Aza would start Sunday against Justin Verlander.
Deunte Heath made his Major League debut during Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Tigers. He threw two pitches to Prince Fielder and induced an inning-ending double play in the eighth.
The White Sox finished August with a 16-12 record, their fourth month with a .500 or better record in 2012.
Dewayne Wise increased his single-season career high for stolen bases to 14 with two in Saturday's loss.