2/16/2013 5:10 P.M. ET
Contract has no effect on Danks' road back
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- During each step of John Danks' recovery process following Aug. 6 arthroscopic surgery, from his arm program to his offseason return to the mound, to his regular Spring Training bullpen sessions at Camelback Ranch, the left-hander's focus has been singular.
Get himself ready to be part of the Opening Day rotation.
Never once along that somewhat grueling road was Danks driven by the five-year, $65-million contract he agreed to with the White Sox during the offseason prior to the injury-plagued 2012 campaign.
"No, I haven't thought about the contract," said Danks on Saturday morning. "I want to live up to it and earn it and that's definitely why they gave me that money, because they expect me to be worth that or more.
"So, that's the goal, but just day to day trying to get back, that wasn't much of the issue or any really. I didn't think about it much at all."
Danks, 27, will earn $14.25 million in each of the next four years. He certainly understands the expectations for high-level production such as 2008-10, when he developed into one of the American League's best left-handed starters with three straight years of at least 195 innings pitched, 32 starts and an ERA at 3.77 or better, as opposed to his struggles over the past two seasons adding up to an 11-16 record and 4.66 ERA.
It just wasn't a motivating factor for Danks during the rehab.
"People have a right to expect me to pitch well enough to earn that money, and when I don't do that, they have a right to voice their opinion," Danks said. "But that's not something I've concerned myself with much.
"Really, I'm just trying to get back on the field. Once I get there, then I can start worrying about all the other stuff."
Sunday features another bullpen session for Danks, followed by three live batting practices with two days off in between each one. He finishes with another bullpen on March 1, before facing the Giants in his Cactus League debut on March 4.
If all goes well, Danks will progress with each outing and place himself in position to break camp with the team, as was the plan last August. Anything short of that target will be a disappointment.
"I put in a lot of work this offseason, as have [White Sox head athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider] and the doctors and everybody," Danks said. "The goal was to be ready by the start of the season. That was why we had surgery when we did. So, yeah, I would be a little disappointed if I wasn't on the Opening Day roster.
"Like I said all along, that's not my decision to make. My goal is just to make that hopefully an easy decision for them. At least make them consider putting me on there. Make it hard for them not to have me on the Opening Day roster."
Santiago prepared for any role
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Hector Santiago came into camp last year as somewhat of an unknown, a talented southpaw with a screwball out pitch, who made a brief but successful two-game appearance with the White Sox in 2011.
He left Arizona as the team's closer and ended the season as part of the starting rotation, with stops in middle relief and Triple-A Charlotte in between. So when Santiago is asked what role he prefers to handle as part of the 2013 pitching staff, he puts starter atop his list, but is prepared for anything.
"I already know where I'm at. I'm that sixth spot kind of guy, fill-in," Santiago said. "It will be fun and awesome to start, but you want to be up here pitching. Whether it's in the bullpen or later on in the season get a few spot starts with Johnny [Danks] where we don't know when he'll come back for his first start or if there are times where he needs extra days.
"I've prepared to be a starter," added Santiago, who made five starts and threw 29 innings while pitching for Puerto Rico in winter baseball. "I'm ready to go to the 'pen if they need me for one inning, but I'm stretched out if they need me for long relief."
Santiago likes the idea of being able to throw 70-100 pitches and take control of a game, more so than the way a game can change on just one pitch as a closer. He still remembers the three runs he allowed to Oakland in the bottom of the 14th on April 25, turning a 4-2 lead into a 5-4 loss and marking Addison Reed's move to closer.
"You have a one-run lead, the game is on the line with you pitching on the mound," said Santiago of the closer mentality. "You are pretty much in control. You are doing everything. If you give up the runs, it's your loss. If you give up the runs to tie the game, other guys behind you have to pitch.
"It's different. You come in the sixth inning and you give up runs or the game-tying run, and you still have three innings to make up for that."
Ventura getting familiarized with youngsters
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Scott Snodgress, Andre Rienzo, Dylan Axelrod and Erik Johnson all will have a Cactus League chance to influence the higher-ups during late February starts when games begin. But it's also an important stretch for manager Robin Ventura and the coaching staff.
With 10 rookies being used by the White Sox in 2012, it's good for Ventura to gain even greater familiarity with options that might be needed during the course of the season.
"Honestly, you never know when you're going to need them," Ventura said. "[Last year] we had quite a few [pitchers]. We had to know a lot of names and it was nice last year getting guys in games. When you get a report or get an opinion about someone, you've seen them and know what they're talking about."
Third to first
• All White Sox position players minus Alejandro De Aza, Alexei Ramirez and Tyler Saladino had checked in prior to Sunday's official report date for position players.
"I don't really remember this many guys showing up [early]. It's nice," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "They're excited to be here and just get going.
"Today is one of those days where we had the hitters hitting off the pitchers for the first time, so it's nice and exciting. Tomorrow will be great just to get everyone in and on a regular schedule."
• Ventura talked at SoxFest about Adam Dunn playing more first base this season and giving Paul Konerko more time at designated hitter. But Ventura doesn't have a set equation for how that formula will work.
"It's just more for Paulie to get a couple more days of not having to go out and play first base," Ventura said. "There's no equation that he's going to play only so many games. Again, it's how we view it during the season and how he's feeling."
• While members of the starting rotation won't start pitching in Cactus League games until March 1 due to the extended Spring Training, Ventura said that everyday position players will be playing from the beginning. They could get a couple of extra days of rest due to the World Baseball Classic creating extra days of camp.