Ventura, Cooper on Danks' status for Opening Day

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As John Danks worked through 66 pitches Sunday morning during a Minor League intrasquad contest at Camelback Ranch, he wasn't worried about velocity readings.

To be honest, Danks wasn't all that concerned with results either, which was a good thing since Cody Puckett, Kevan Smith, Trayce Thompson and Brady Shoemaker all took him deep during the four different times he took the mound. Two of those blasts came after pitching coach Don Cooper extended the inning past three outs to get Danks more pitches.

His main focus simply was getting in work and pushing toward a Major League return. Danks thought he would break camp with the White Sox after successful rehab work following Aug. 6 arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder, but as manager Robin Ventura said Saturday, he simply isn't ready.

"We're at the mercy of my shoulder. We're doing everything we know to do and hopefully, sooner than later, we'll be ready," said Danks, after Shoemaker's opposite-field shot ended his day's work. "I spent the whole offseason with April 1 in mind, but it's different for everybody. It was a very general date getting to April 1, a very general time frame. All I can do is throw and it will come."

"Again, he feels OK, but he knows it's not there, it's not 100 percent," said Ventura, who watched Danks in action. "Nothing hurts, but he just doesn't have that strength back yet to get the velocity and location to go with it."

Danks characterized Sunday's effort as positive, getting back out on the mound after the Reds knocked him around on Tuesday in Goodyear. There wasn't anything specific Danks was trying to do, aside from pounding the zone with his four pitches and making the ball do what he wanted.

The cutter wasn't great, according to Danks, and while he didn't look at the radar gun, he felt about the same as he did against the Reds when he topped out in the high 80s. Danks has never been a high-velocity pitcher, but he knows that he needs more to make the gap a little bigger between the fastball and changeup.

"If I can get back to 91, 92, that's what I've always been. I'm not expecting much more than that, and I definitely have a ways to go," said Danks, who figures to pitch Friday in Arizona. "It will come, I don't have any doubts.

"I just have to listen to my body at this point. I have to see how it's progressing and when I go throw, see the progress I've made and see how much closer I need to get where I need to be."

Axelrod comfortable going every five days

Axelrod on Spring Training, in-game consistency

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Nothing has officially been announced, but Dylan Axelrod almost certainly will be the temporary replacement for John Danks as the fifth starter in the White Sox rotation.

According to Axelrod, he's not even sure about breaking camp with the team.

"They haven't told me anything," said Axelrod, after throwing 62 pitches in a Sunday morning intrasquad Minor League game. "I don't know what the official word is, so I'm going about my business."

Axelrod was scheduled to start in place of Danks on Sunday against the Royals, but he was moved to the Minor League side. He emphasized backdoor cutters and pitching inside, as well as up, getting his work done.

Ten big league starts exist on Axelrod's White Sox resume, including quality starts in Baltimore, New York and Boston last season. They've come in the spot-start variety, but Axelrod isn't worried about survival if he's called upon to take a regular turn throughout the month of April, beginning on April 6 at home vs. Seattle.

"Going through the Minor Leagues every fifth day, I got a lot of innings in and I feel durable and take care of myself," Axelrod said. "So it works to my advantage. I have a good routine, so If I get that opportunity, I think it will be beneficial for me going every five days."

Versatile Sanchez claims utility role on bench

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Following Sunday's 8-2 loss to the Royals at Camelback Ranch, White Sox manager Robin Ventura announced Angel Sanchez as the team's utility infielder to start the 2013 season.

It was assumed that Sanchez, a 29-year-old Rule 5 selection from the Angels, stood as the frontrunner with his ability to play shortstop as well as second and third. And Sanchez feels he fits in nicely.

"I like the chemistry, how everybody treats everybody," Sanchez said. "I'm really excited to be here. Everybody treats me good.

"It's been a challenge for me to prove to them what I really can do. It's been fun to be here and I'm doing my very best."

Sanchez has played 184 Major League games, including 110 for the Astros in 2011. So, the 29-year-old understands the big league experience. He plays a very aggressive shortstop defensively, which could lead to a few mistakes, but the White Sox have liked what they've witnessed.

"Angel is going out about his business the right way," said White Sox third-base coach Joe McEwing, who works with the infielders. "He's done his work. He's prepared for every situation when that situation arises."

"I'm comfortable at every position, second, short and third base," Sanchez said. "That's why you get your work in during Spring Training. You do all the stuff to get better during practice."

Third to first

• Alex Rios missed his second straight game because of lower back stiffness, but Ventura expects his right fielder back in the lineup Monday against the Angels.

"Hopefully tomorrow," said Ventura of Rios. "It's something that [White Sox head athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider] loosened up," Ventura said. "It's getting better. I'm not worried about the season or anything like that. Just trying to get him maybe one more, two more down here, before we go."

• Errors committed by Alexei Ramirez and Erik Johnson during Sunday's 8-2 loss to the Royals gave the White Sox six miscues in their last two losses. It's a scenario that has Ventura less than thrilled.

"That's something that needs to be taken care of before we get out of here," Ventura said. "Sometimes I think you get close to getting out of here and some things kind of get pushed aside. We'll get it taken care of before we leave here."

• Look for left-handed reliever Leyson Septimo, who has thrown in four Cactus League games, to start the season on the disabled list.

"When he throws, he says he still feels something," said Ventura of Septimo, who last pitched on March 7 because of soreness in his left arm. "You can't look in there for him."

• Gordon Beckham is 8-for-19 in his last five games.