04/16/2013 11:02 PM ET
John Danks continuing to make strides in rehab
By Chris Toman / Special to MLB.com
TORONTO -- Left-hander John Danks, who is recovering from arthroscopic shoulder surgery, continues to make positive strides in his road to recovery.
The 28-year-old tossed six innings in an extended spring training game on Monday in Arizona and manager Robin Ventura was encouraged by the results.
Ventura said his velocity is getting better -- it was clocked as high as 89 mph his previous outing -- and that Danks is scheduled for another start on Saturday.
"He threw fine, it's a positive report," Ventura said. "People that have seen him are having positive reports. He's just feeling stronger and it's probably coming out of his hand a little better."
Danks' four-seam fastball has averaged a tick over 92 mph throughout his six-year career but dropped down to a shade above 90 in his abbreviated 2012 season, according to Brooksbaseball.net.
While there's still no timeline for Danks' return, Ventura said he will join the White Sox in the near future as a spectator. Ventura believes it will be good for him mentally to be around the clubhouse.
"He'll probably just come up and work out," Ventura said. "I think it's important for him to come and still be a part of us. It's good for our guys to be around him, too."
Danks has a 57-60 record with a 4.12 ERA in 159 career starts with the White Sox.
Lindstrom, Santiago strong setup men in 'pen
TORONTO -- The White Sox have struggled to begin the season, as the club entered play Tuesday sitting at the bottom of the American League Central standings with a 5-8 record.
But it hasn't been all doom and gloom for last season's Central Division runner-ups.
Chicago's bullpen has been dynamite, something it proved in a 4-3 loss during Monday's series opener against the Blue Jays, and again in Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Jays.
Starter Gavin Floyd managed only 4 1/3 innings on Monday, but three Chicago relievers pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings of one-hit ball. Two of the relievers who helped keep the Blue Jays' offense in check after Floyd left were offseason acquisition Matt Lindstrom and lefty Hector Santiago.
The pair has combined to throw 17 1/3 scoreless innings over 12 appearances this season, while striking out 13. Santiago replaced Tuesday's starter Dylan Axelrod and tossed 1 2/3 hitless innings with a strikeout. Lindstrom retired the only batter he faced and earned his first win with the White Sox.
The White Sox weren't very active in the offseason but so far Lindstrom has proven to be a great addition.
"[Lindstrom] can do a lot of different things. He has been great so far to kind of mix in there," manager Robin Ventura said.
As for Santiago, Ventura marveled over his ability to fill a number of roles. Santiago has experience starting and closing, and can fill a situational role by his ability to get out left-handers. Last season, Santiago has held lefties to a stingy .211 batting average, .239 slugging percentage, and surrendered only one extra-base hit.
Santiago has a large repertoire but will mainly attack the opposition with a low-90s fastball.
"He has good stuff, he throws strikes," Ventura said. "He gets a lot of swing and misses for a guy who throws a fastball.
"He's kind of like a Swiss army knife -- he's a little bit of everything. The biggest thing is he's effective and gets the job done. How we use him from this point forward, he's probably forcing your hand to use him a little more."
The two of them have helped Chicago's bullpen enter Tuesday second in the AL in opponents' batting average (.182) and ERA (1.79). It's a good thing the White Sox bullpen has been strong because 13 of the club's 14 games have been decided by three runs or less.
Gillaspie returns to lineup after day off
TORONTO -- After getting a day off for Monday's series opener, Conor Gillaspie was back in the lineup at third base and batting in the No. 6 spot in the order on Tuesday. It's the highest he's hit since the fifth game of the season.
The 25-year-old, who went 0-for-3 with a walk on Tuesday, sat on Monday in favor of the recently promoted Tyler Greene and manager Robin Ventura said the plan moving forward could be to platoon the pair. He envisions starting the left-handed-hitting Gillaspie vs. righties, while getting Greene into the lineup against left-handers.
Since Gillaspie is a third baseman and Greene a middle infielder, who will primarily see action at second base with Gordon Beckham out, Ventura plans to continue juggling utility man Jeff Keppinger between the two positions.
Ventura has been impressed by Gillaspie's hot start, though, as he's hitting .429 over the first 13 games.
"He's earning the opportunity to get in there to play," Ventura said.
Heath optioned to Triple-A Charlotte
TORONTO -- The White Sox optioned reliever Deunte Heath to Triple-A Charlotte following Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Blue Jays.
Chicago had been working with an eight-man bullpen, but manager Robin Ventura felt the club no longer needed to carry an extra reliever.
"We felt like we needed to do that for that stretch," Ventura said. "We are back even, feeling like we have the bullpen back to where we feel guys aren't overextended."
Heath made one appearance with the White Sox, against Cleveland on Saturday, and allowed one run over 1 2/3 innings. The 27-year-old was up for three games with the club last season in what was his first taste of the big leagues.
The White Sox will announce a corresponding move on Wednesday to fill out their 25-man roster.
• White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, who has been away from the team recovering from a case of diverticulitis, will rejoin the club Friday in Chicago.
Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.