04/23/2013 12:49 AM ET
Sale sees velocity increasing as season progresses
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Through four starts and 26 innings in the 2013 season, Chris Sale feels healthy and right on track leading up to his next trip to the mound Wednesday afternoon against the Indians.
In fact, Sale hasn't had any "bumps in the road" since the start of Spring Training after far surpassing his single-season innings pitched high when he reached 192 in 2012. There has been a slight dip in velocity, with Sale averaging 92.62 mph on his four-season fastball through April according to Brooksbaseball.net, compared to 94.38 mph last April.
For the 2012 campaign, Sale's four-seamer averaged 93.57. But a smiling Sale spoke for all ace hurlers whose velocity might not quite currently be in the area of expectations when explaining in detail that basically it's still early.
"You talk about being in midseason form. You don't really get to midseason form until you are in the middle of the season," Sale said. "You are pitching in a little bit colder weather and you are still trying to find yourself. You work out in the offseason and get throwing, but there's nothing in the world like pitching in a big league ballgame and in a big league park.
"Your adrenaline gets going and you get a little more extension. Your effort level is a little bit more. With all the variables coming in, I think that's mainly the reason and then it starts warming up and you get a little bit stronger. You've gone through your shoulder program five, six, seven times and then it's 85 degrees and you are loose and you get a sweat going."
Sale disagreed with the notion that he has more in the tank velocity-wise, choosing to believe the aforementioned changes will lead to more consistent fastball speed.
"I think it's just maintaining your top velocity for just a few more pitches," Sale said. "Where you might top out at 95 four or five times per game, you might be able to hold that velocity for a few more pitches and obviously later into the game."
Danks to make extended spring start Friday
CHICAGO -- A Monday afternoon meeting with White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, manager Robin Ventura, pitching coach Don Cooper and head athletic trainer Herm Schneider didn't net John Danks the exact results he wanted.
Danks had talked Sunday about wanting to go out on a Minor League rehab assignment, as he continues his climb back from Aug. 6 arthroscopic shoulder surgery. But Monday's decision was for Danks to make at least one more start this Friday during extended spring camp in Arizona.
"It didn't get shot down. I just got to go out there and throw well again," Danks said. "It will put a little extra on me to get back. Hopefully it goes well.
"I want to get to where I can get big leaguers out consistently. We'll see. I'll go out there and throw Friday. If it goes well, we'll go from there."
The left-hander has felt better of late on the mound and with his work between starts, also seeing a slight uptick in velocity.
"I'm making progress in the right direction. I'm not worried about it," Danks said. "I figure I'll be back out on a rehab start. If not after this one, maybe after the next one. I'm not far."
Dunn: White Sox 'can't play any worse'
CHICAGO -- Designated hitter Adam Dunn was speaking about more than his personal 7-for-69 start to the 2013 season when addressing a disappointing first three weeks.
"We can't play any worse than what we're playing now," Dunn said before going 0-for-4 in Monday's 3-2 loss to the Indians. "Obviously, we're getting good pitching but other than that, terrible. I don't know how far back we are but the reassuring thing is we're playing our worst baseball of the season and if you're going to play bad baseball, you might as well do it now.
"Offensively, we've had one guy hit for most of the year. But other than that, sporadic. Obviously, that's going to pick up and when that does, that'll pick up the intensity defensively. It'll probably pick up the intensity for the pitchers. It seems like when everyone's hitting, everything seems to come together. So we need to start whacking it."
Alex Rios and his .300 average stands as that one consistent hitter, although Alexei Ramirez was at .300 before going 0-for-4 on Monday as the club fell to 7-12.
Remember, though, that the 2012 White Sox under Robin Ventura started 10-6, quickly dipped to 17-21 and 4 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central and then won 13 of their next 14 and 54 of 88 to move a season-high 16 games over .500 at 71-55.
The White Sox ended Monday in last place in the AL Central but just four games behind the division-leading Royals. Ventura is one who always focuses on the positive and wasn't about to quantify the seriousness of the situation through 19 games.
"Again, when you lose, you just lose. As bad as you can play? Anything can always get worse," Ventura said. "I'd rather us focus on what we're doing and just continue to play hard. Losing is not easy, it's not fun. I get what [Dunn] is trying to say, but I've also seen worse. So any time you say it can't get worse, it can get worse.
"Any time you don't score runs, it gets similar when you don't score runs in the past. It's one of those where you have to find the answer rather than just sit there and say it reminds me of another time. Focus on the good stuff and go from there."
Beckham looking to shorten rehab timeline
CHICAGO -- At approximately one week removed from surgery to remove a fractured hamate bone in his left hand, Gordon Beckham already is making some bold predictions regarding his return.
"If I'm not playing in the big leagues in six weeks, I'm going to be very upset," Beckham said. "Let's put it that way. I've kind of made a mental goal: I want to be back in four. And there are people who have done that. But I would like to be playing in four weeks and back way before the six-week mark."
The injury took place in the top of the second of an 8-7 loss to the Nationals on April 9 on a 2-1 pitch from Gio Gonzalez. Beckham is working out and can do pretty much everything but grip a bat or put on a glove.
Standard recovery time for such an injury is about six weeks, so Beckham's optimism is not unfounded.
"I don't know. That's just Dr. Gordon talking," said Beckham with a laugh, referring to his recovery predictions. "He doesn't know anything what he's talking about."
Third to first
• Double-A Birmingham lost to Huntsville on Sunday in a game in which it managed just one hit but scored three runs. The Barons received 12 walks, with three drawn by Jared Mitchell.
• Manager Robin Ventura said it's certainly not his goal to use four or five relievers consistently in games. Ventura used four relievers Sunday and six on Saturday.
"I'm not planning on doing that all the time, but I think in certain games and people that you're playing and the way their lineup shakes out, you might do that," Ventura said. "But I'm not trying to use five guys in a short period of time."
• Ventura said that Alex Rios was running on his own in the fourth inning of Sunday's loss, when Adam Dunn struck out and Rios was caught stealing third to end the inning.
"If he's going to steal, he needs to know he needs to get it," said Ventura, adding that he certainly is not going to put up a stop sign with Rios just trying to make something happen.