4/18/2013 12:00 A.M. ET
White Sox fond of former reliever Santos
By Chris Toman / Special to MLB.com
TORONTO -- Sergio Santos is long removed from his days with the White Sox, but those that had the chance to work with him still have the right-hander on their mind.
Santos broke into the big leagues with Chicago before being sent to Toronto for Minor League pitcher Nestor Molina in a straight up one-for-one swap in December 2011.
White Sox Minor League pitching coordinator Curt Hasler, who is filling in as the bullpen coach during Don Cooper's absence, was disappointed to hear Santos was placed on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his right triceps. Hasler was hoping to catch up and chat about some old times with the Blue Jays reliever during Chicago's four-game set in Toronto.
"I would love to see him. I went to find him the other day, it would be nice to say hello," Hasler said. "He's a good guy."
Santos spent two years with the White Sox, including the 2011 season when he saved 30 games and struck out 92 batters over 63 1/3 innings. Hasler knows him from his time in Chicago's Minor League system and is still amazed at how fast he shot up through the ranks.
The 29-year-old Santos is a converted shortstop and picked up the art of pitching immediately, according to Hasler.
"First of all, throwing on the mound is different than throwing from the infield," Hasler said. "Some guys get it quicker than others and have a knack for it -- Sergio is one of those guys. When he got on the mound and threw it looked pretty natural the first time I watched him.
"He showed great stuff coming in and worked real hard at everything and got a lot of things quickly."
Hasler and Buddy Bell, the assistant general manager, worked with Santos during the early stages of the conversion and were impressed with how quickly he learned how to throw offspeed. It took a bit before Santos was given the green light to start working on his now wipeout slider, as he focused on his mechanics and controlling his fastball, but that didn't affect his progress with the pitch.
"He showed a nice breaking ball pretty quickly. It didn't take him long," Hasler said.
Catcher Tyler Flowers knows that slider well and loves Santos' stuff except for when he's trying to hit it.
"He's a guy that really works hard and has his heart in the game. He's a tough matchup, he has a couple weapons out there with a higher velocity," Flowers said.
"Of course 96 [mph] is always a good weapon when you can somewhat locate it. The slider is definitely the equalizer for him. When you combine that with the high velocity, it's even more challenging."
Outfielder Danks gives Ventura options off bench
TORONTO -- The White Sox recalled outfielder Jordan Danks from Triple-A Charlotte after optioning reliever Deunte Heath to the Knights following Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Blue Jays.
Danks wasted no time making his presence felt in his first game of the season Wednesday.
Manager Robin Ventura inserted him into the contest in the bottom of the eighth inning as a defensive replacement in center field, and Danks followed that up by leading off the ninth with single to right field.
Danks, 26, was hitting .333 with a .433 on-base percentage and .943 OPS over 13 games with the Knights. He provides the White Sox with another option off the bench. Chicago was previously carrying an extra reliever, but Ventura felt there was no longer a need to go with an eight-man bullpen.
"Between him and Dewayne [Wise], you start mixing and matching late in the game. [Danks] can either run for a guy, defensive stuff, pinch-hit, there is probabaly spot starts in there once in a while," Ventura said.
Ventura was pleased with the way Danks was swinging the bat and believes he benefited from the 50 games and 67 at-bats with the White Sox last season during Danks' first year in the Major Leagues.
"He just looks more consistent," Ventura said. "He has become a better hitter, part of it is being up here a lot last year and working on things, learning how to hit up here. It's not easy to try to learn up here when you are not getting a whole lot of at-bats."
Heath, meanwhile, made one appearance with the White Sox against Cleveland on Saturday -- allowing 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.
Flowers making some adjustments at plate
TORONTO -- Tyler Flowers entered Wednesday's action stuck in a 1-for-25 slump over his previous seven games.
As a result, the White Sox catcher has been tweaking some things with his stance and has opened up a bit more at the plate. The experiment paid off right away for him.
Flowers hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat in a 7-0 win over the Blue Jays and finished the game 2-for-4.
"I just felt a little more smooth, I guess," Flowers said about the stance. "Like I have a little more freedom, a little more, kind of, swagger, looseness feeling on all my swings today. I felt very good."
Manager Robin Ventura knows it's only one game, but thinks it can be a confidence boost for Flowers.
"It's big because it reaffirms. You can always doubt if you continue to struggle or don't feel right at the plate," the skipper said. "It was good. He got a couple hits and you're helping your team win."
Prior to the game, Ventura spoke about how what Flowers is doing is very common.
"I think it's more trying to find that comfort in being able to survive and do the things you need to do," Ventura said.
"As hitters, you are always making adjustments and doing things. What was good one week might not feel the same a week later. So you just keep making adjustments."
Part of what may be challenging for Flowers, according to Ventura, is learning how to be an everyday catcher after backing up A.J. Pierzynski in previous years. By playing more, that means he has less time to work on things in the cage, so Flowers must capitalize on the days he sits.
"When you get a day off, you use that day to work on your swing a lot more than you would a normal day," Ventura said.
While the 27-year-old Flowers might not be swinging the hottest bat right now, Ventura has no concerns about his ability behind the plate.
Ventura said Flowers goes into contests with a good game plan and that the pitching staff enjoys throwing to him.
"His first concern is what he does behind the plate and then secondarily, it's the swing," Ventura said.
Flowers believes he learned some valuable things from Pierzynski, including the veteran's preparation and ability to not get down when things weren't going his way. He also mentioned that Pierzynski's main focus was always his work behind the plate and rapport with the pitchers.
"That's the biggest thing I probably picked up from him. If he was going through a tough stretch or something, 0-for-20, not swinging the bat well, he was still in there doing everything he needs to do to catch the next day," Flowers said.
"That says a lot about the player and where his head is at, and what his interests are. His best interests were for the team, not for himself."
• Curt Hasler has enjoyed filling in for White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, who has been away from the team recovering from diverticulitis, but he would rather Cooper be with the team. The good news is that Cooper is scheduled to rejoin the White Sox on Friday in Chicago.
"Listen, it's the big leagues and that's awesome," Hasler, Chicago's Minor League pitching coordinator, said about his time with the big club. "But I'm hoping Cooper is feeling good. I'm hoping and praying that he's back and ready to go, because not having him here is not the same. No doubt about it."
• Second baseman Gordon Beckham underwent successful surgery at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday to repair the hook of the hamate fracture in his left hand. The expected recovery time for Beckham is six weeks.
• The White Sox have released left-hander Charlie Leesman after designating him for assignment on Sunday to make room on the 40-man roster for infielder Tyler Greene. Leesman is now on waivers, but could ultimately rejoin the club if he goes unclaimed.
In 26 starts at Triple-A Charlotte last season, the 26-year-old was 12-10 with a 2.47 ERA. Chicago selected Leesman in the 11th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.