02/18/2013 7:05 PM ET
Danks shaves head for good cause
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As Chris Sale struggled with the clippers to shave John Danks' head outside of the White Sox clubhouse at Camelback Ranch on Monday, Danks made an apropos joke about Sale's future employment.
"We know what Sale's next job won't be," said Danks, drawing laughter from the assembled media.
For the fourth straight year, Danks had his head shaved for the St. Baldrick's Foundation that helps raise funds for childhood cancer research. Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle and Jake Peavy have been the previous barbers, but despite Sale's struggles on Monday, they were both proud to be part of the event.
"It's such a great cause for anybody going through a time like that," Sale said. "Just to put a smile on their face or bring light to their day any way you can. It's always awesome."
"Hopefully, we can continue to raise a bunch of money," Danks said. "It's fun to help a good cause."
Alexei focusing on all aspects of hitting
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Give Alexei Ramirez high marks for toughness in 2012.
But the shortstop won't provide such a favorable review concerning his production.
After colliding with center fielder Alejandro De Aza on a Craig Gentry fly ball in a game against Texas on July 27, Ramirez played the remainder of the season with left wrist soreness and inflammation that hampered him at the plate. He fought through the pain to finish with just nine homers and a .265 average, both career lows, but feels poised for a return to excellence in 2013.
"The way I prepare, every year you learn something different," said Ramirez through translator Lino Diaz. "The way I prepare for pitchers and use strike zone discipline ... a little more patience at the plate, that's something I'll continue to get better at.
"I felt I reinforced every aspect of hitting. I know there's room for improvement in different areas, but nothing specific. Just continue to do my routine and reinforcing all the stuff I've been working on. I feel this is going to be a good year."
Ramirez would be defined as the prototypical free swinger, which probably won't change after five seasons in the Majors and seven playing professionally in Cuba. But as manager Robin Ventura pointed out, Ramirez becomes more dangerous when he uses the whole field as part of his offensive game.
"He got to a point last year where he was pulling the ball only and was susceptible to offspeed stuff," said Ventura of Ramirez, who hit .323 in July and .290 in August, but just .237 in September, while driving in 73 runs overall. "And when he did have spurts when he was going well, he was going the other way and covering the strike zone better."
"I'm aware I need to hit the ball the other way a little more and try to do that," Ramirez said. "But my game is not going to change."
Teammate's tip rights Omogrosso's career
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After posting an April ERA of 7.15 over eight games for Triple-A Charlotte last season, Brian Omogrosso feared the worst in his seventh season of professional baseball.
"I could have had the worst April of anyone. I thought I was right on the chopping block," said Omogrosso, smiling. "I was like, 'Better think what I'm going to do after baseball.'"
That gloom and doom incredibly turned into Omogrosso's Major League debut on July 3 at home against Texas thanks to one informal workout session in Norfolk with teammate and veteran infielder Dallas McPherson. Omogrosso asked McPherson to step into the batter's box to see if there was anything he noticed about his delivery.
McPherson told the 28-year-old right-hander that he had nasty stuff but the problem was Omogrosso was very easy to time.
"I used to have a really long arm, and he said, 'I'll pick the ball up behind you,'" Omogrosso explained. "He's like, 'This may sound weird, but my Little League coach used to tell me try to take my hand directly to the shortstop to keep the ball behind you.'
"At this point, I was willing to try anything. Lo and behold, I just threw the ball where I wanted and everything like that. It's amazing that one little tweak can make that much of a difference in your entire career."
Omogrosso posted a 2.57 ERA over 17 games for the White Sox, working two innings or more on four occasions. That potential long-relief role caused Omogrosso to lose a little weight coming into Spring Training to help with endurance.
While the 2013 bullpen appears to be set at the start, Omogrosso hopes to open some eyes yet again in Glendale to stay on that short list of Minor League assistance just one call away.
"I'm realistic in this game and I know how things work. I'll just keep going about my business and hope for the best," Omogrosso said. "I couldn't have put myself in a better spot from last year. Obviously, hope for the best and turn some heads while I'm here."
Flowers' work ethic unchanged with starting job
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Getting the starting job behind the plate hasn't changed Tyler Flowers' work ethic during Spring Training. Flowers put in countless hours of preparation last year as A.J. Pierzynski's backup.
"The biggest difference is A.J. not being here," Flowers said. "Other than that, we are doing the same stuff day in and day out. I'm doing just as much as I did last year, so it's kind of been the same routine with a couple of new catchers. That's it.
"Now is the time to get as much work in as you can. That's what I did last year. That's what I have been doing and I'm going to continue to do the rest of spring. I don't really know what I could do differently."
Flowers said that all the pitchers he has caught have looked good early on in spring, with game action clearly telling more. He mentioned Daniel Moskos and David Purcey as looking really good in the bullpen sessions.
Third to first
• John Danks reported another all-clear following Sunday's bullpen session. He is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Wednesday.
"It's another step in the right direction," Danks said. "When we start throwing a little more intense, we'll see how that goes. So far, so good."
• Tyler Flowers heard about Paul Konerko humorously calling him out as one of the main culprits in teasing the captain about his elder statesman status. Flowers gave a tongue-in-cheek explanation of said comments.
"He's a father figure on the team, so every once in a while, I get excited for him," Flowers said. "He hit a couple of doubles yesterday in live [BP]. So I said, 'Way to hit it dad.' It's all in good fun."
In just the second week of Spring Training, Flowers isn't prepared to think about the possibility of White Sox life without Konerko.
"I know we got him this year, so that's good," Flowers said. "Hopefully he'll play until he's 50 and keep hitting .300 with 30 [home runs]."
• Alex Rios celebrated his 32nd birthday on Monday.