CHICAGO -- Alexei Ramirez hasn't got time for the pain.

While some soreness and minor maladies might have sapped some of his power production or ever so slightly slowed his production at the plate, it hasn't kept Ramirez from playing in 135 of the White Sox 138 games. Ramirez stands tied with right fielder Alex Rios for the team lead in that category.

"To a large degree, he's had some little things that have bothered him over the course of the season," said White Sox general manager Ken Williams of his shortstop. "I've been amazed that he continues to go out there every day when he's beaten up and banged up and I think he needs a couple of days. But he insists on playing.

"That will take its toll on you a little bit. I look less at the numbers and more the effort and stability he gives us on a day-to-day basis."

Ramirez's numbers have picked up of late, as well.

He homered in the sixth inning of Friday's 7-5 loss to the Royals to tie the game at the time, and at 66 RBIs, he falls just 11 from matching his career-high in the category. Over his last 21 games, Ramirez has hit safely in 18 of them and has a .352 average (25-for-71) with three homers and 14 RBIs during that stretch.

Add in his continued Gold Glove-caliber defense at shortstop, and Ramirez has been a highly productive force for the American League Central leaders.

"The only thing I can focus on is helping this team," said Ramirez through translator and White Sox director of public relations Lou Hernandez, with Ramirez moving within one of his fifth straight season with double-digit homers. "As long as I can help this team at a high level and not hinder this team winning, that's my only goal.

"You have to love the game. God has given me this gift to play and given me this opportunity to play. For me not to play, it means I can't take the pain anymore. It means the pain hurts so much that it won't allow me to play the game that I love."

Ramirez appreciated Williams' praise. His durability and consistency have given him a leadership role in his fifth year with the organization. But he takes nothing for granted.

"I feel and I try to act like I just arrived yesterday," Ramirez said. "If I'm considered a leader, it's because I try leading by example. But I try being the first one in and the last one out. That's how you lead by example."

No timetable for Dunn's return

CHICAGO -- There's no specific timetable for Adam Dunn's return to the starting lineup, as he battles a recurrence of the strained right oblique that cost him games in Detroit on Sept. 1-2.

"Yeah, I think it's just whenever he's ready to go, he's ready to go. Just depends on how he does," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Dunn. "That's the way we've talked about it."

With a potentially season-deciding, four-game home set with the Tigers beginning on Monday, Ventura isn't worried about Dunn trying to force his way back into the lineup before he's ready.

"We have a better idea watching him. You can tell if it's still bugging him," Ventura said. "I know he wants to play, but I think [White Sox head athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider] has a better idea this time. Watching him, we'll know a little more about how he's feeling."

Kevin Youkilis and his wife, Julie, welcomed a new son into the world on Friday. He is expected back on Sunday, or Monday at the latest.

Gavin Floyd is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Sunday to test his right elbow flexor strain once again, incorporating offspeed pitches for the first time since going on the disabled list. If that session goes well, Floyd could return to the rotation. But Ventura remains cautiously optimistic as far as the right-hander's return is concerned.

"He's got to have everything," Ventura said. "He has to be able to throw [offspeed] and feel like he can be effective doing that."

Danks moving forward in recovery

CHICAGO -- The sling has officially been removed from John Danks' left arm, marking another small step toward recovery from season-ending arthroscopic surgery performed on his shoulder on Aug. 6 to repair a capsular tear and remove damaged tissue from his rotator cuff and biceps.

"I'm sleeping way better with that thing off. It's good," said Danks, who humorously offered to present that contraption keeping his arm immobilized to the media. "I'm glad to be out of it."

In this first week out of the sling, Danks is pushing his rehab a little more and quipped that White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider is working him to his limit and maybe a little beyond every day. As far as baseball activity goes, Danks believes November 1 was the target before surgery. But he'll find out more sometime next week, when he sees Dr. Anthony Romeo, one of the surgeons who performed the procedure.

Spring Training is still Danks' goal to return, even if he doesn't start throwing until early December.

"I'm hoping I can start throwing before then," Danks said. "A normal offseason, I wouldn't throw until after the New Year. But seeing as how I'll be a few months without even touching a baseball, I was thinking if I can start playing light catch or start a throwing program toward the end of November, I would imagine that would give me enough time.

"Like I said all along, this is my first time dealing with all of it and I don't know. They are all pleased with where I'm at. I have to go off of that. I haven't been told otherwise, so I'll do everything I can."

Third to first

• Hector Santiago has twice put himself on the postgame highlight reel without even appearing in that particular game. Santiago made a barehanded catch of Mike Napoli's home run in the visitors' bullpen during a July 28 game in Texas and did the same on Friday night on Salvador Perez's lined shot into the White Sox bullpen. Friday's catch was made while Santiago was sitting on a chair, wearing his Half-Way to St. Patrick's Day green hat.

Using his non-pitching hand to catch the ball on the fly isn't a painful experience, according to the rookie.

"It's actually coming down slower at the finishing point," said Santiago with a laugh.

• Saturday was Star Wars Day at U.S. Cellular Field, with Darth Vader throwing out one of the ceremonial first pitches.

• Long-time Associated Press Chicago sports editor Joe Mooshil passed away at 85 on Friday night. Mooshil covered all the Chicago sports professional teams, including the White Sox, during his storied career.

"The Chicago sports scene has lost a member of the Old Guard today with the passing of Joe Mooshil," said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in a statement on Mooshil's passing. "It's probably fitting, in a way, that he passed away on a fall weekend filled with sports events, because Joe covered them all during his long and honor-filled career."

• The White Sox improved to 28-27 against the American League Central, although they are 3-10 in the last 13 within the division. They are 64-4 overall when leading after eight innings.