02/28/10 6:09 PM EST
Sunday's rain won't change pitching plans
Danks to start Thursday's opener; Jenks has 'best day'
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
This brief moment of Arizona inclement weather won't change the White Sox starting rotation to begin Cactus League competition. As MLB.com reported earlier in the week, Gavin Floyd gets the call for Tuesday's "B" game with the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, with the right-hander scheduled to throw two innings, while John Danks officially starts spring action on Thursday against the Angels, live on MLB.TV at 4:05 p.m. CT.
In regard to the regular-season starting alignment, nothing is official past Mark Buehrle on Opening Day and Jake Peavy on April 7 at home against the Indians. But Floyd and Danks very well could be the next two, in that order, judging by a hint from pitching coach Don Cooper.
"What I'll say is maybe look at who we're playing and look at the lineups and think maybe what you guys would do," Cooper said. "I think we know what we're going to do. I just don't think we've announced it."
Minnesota follows Cleveland to Chicago in the opening six-game homestand, bringing with its lefty-laden lineup featuring Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Jason Kubel and Jim Thome. Add together Cooper's comments and Minnesota's attack, and it appears as if Floyd will finish the Cleveland series and the White Sox will throw the southpaw tandem of Danks and Buehrle at the Twins, sandwiched around Freddy Garcia.
Cooper added that there are no plans to skip Garcia in the opening month, which is a plan the White Sox always have followed when they have five solid starters. The team also has just three open dates in April.
Closer Bobby Jenks had his throwing day on Sunday, and Cooper termed it "the best day he's had so far." Jenks came into camp in great shape but was a little behind throwing-wise, for reasons explained by Cooper.
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"Because Bobby worked so hard on his conditioning, plus Bobby had another child, plus the weather in Chicago is bad. And he told me he had a little difficulty getting somebody to catch him," Cooper said. "So he was just playing more catch than actually pitching off a mound. But one thing I know about Bobby, every year if you look back, everybody is, 'Jeez, we've got to get him in shape. Jeez, he's not ready.'
"When it came to be Opening Day, he was always ready. I know he's going to be ready again. But everything seems to be where it needs to be."
Decisions will have to be made about what to do with rookie Daniel Hudson, who is competing for the long-relief spot. Manager Ozzie Guillen indicated on Sunday that Hudson might be better served getting his regular work in the Minors, as opposed to being used sporadically by the White Sox.
Freddy Dolsi, Lucas Harrell, Sergio Santos, Carlos Torres and Daniel Cabrera all are in contention for that long-relief job, while Guillen said Randy Williams has the upper hand for the left-handed specialist spot but is no roster lock. That assessment is good news for non-roster invite Erick Threets, the hard-throwing southpaw who has impressed during the first week of camp.
Winners to fill in these vacancies will start to become more apparent as games begin, with Guillen simply looking for the best pitchers to help the White Sox win -- righty or lefty, rookie or veteran.
"We are going to take the best 25 guys and I don't care what happens. Those are the guys we are going to count with," Guillen said. "If we believe those 25 are the best 25, then why not take a chance. That's our situation. We want to have someone down there we can count on. We don't have to build the pitching at the big league level."
"Spring Training is always the same. I can't wait to see them throw on the side, then I can't wait to see them throw batting practice," Cooper said. "And then I can't wait for the games to start because that's when the evaluation, that's when the competition, that's when you really realize where the work and the focus has to lie. It's all really a dress rehearsal for April 5, when we start. We're trying to make pitches now that we're going to have to start making on April 5."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.