05/11/2013 11:35 PM ET
Sox hoping for cleaner rehab outing from Danks
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- John Danks will make his third Minor League rehab start -- second for Triple-A Charlotte -- on Sunday afternoon against Pawtucket. The left-hander, who has been on the disabled list since March 22, has been building up arm strength and velocity following season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder last Aug. 6.
During his last trip to the mound in Columbus, Danks allowed two runs on four hits over five innings and struck out four. He also walked five, with White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper listing a slightly cleaner outing from Danks as one of the many intangibles he'll be targeting.
"I would like to see him go out and get a little better result, not that the results are the end-all for him," Cooper said. "I would like him to continue to throw the ball better and command better. In his last outing, I think he had [five] walks. That doesn't really play, yet. So cutting those down for sure and turning them into balls in play.
"Also if he can continue to build up a little more 'oomfa,' a little more velocity. We are not trying to force feed that, because it is what it is and we'll get what we get. I want him to feel good about his fastball command, continuing his climb with his cutter as well as his changeup. But basically just clean it up a little bit, I would say. Clean up his outing."
Danks' velocity has climbed consistently into the 88-89 mph range, a far cry from where he sat during Spring Training. He's feeling no pain during work in between starts, another huge step forward.
Yet, it's uncertain whether Sunday marks Danks' last start before a White Sox return or if he will need another Minor League outing or two.
"Oh, I don't know about that. I don't make those decisions. I know he's scheduled for the 12th and probably scheduled five to six days after that," Cooper said. "He's going to dictate a lot of it of how he does and how he feels.
"We've talked about this. He'll be the first guy to know if and when he's ready to say 'Yeah, I can help us win a Major League game.' And that's the question that has to be answered. Right now in his mind and anybody else's mind, it's not the case just yet. But again inching closer and it's all positive, but just continue to monitor."
Flowers feeling better than his offensive stats
CHICAGO -- The 5-for-27 showing in May by Tyler Flowers wouldn't exactly support the following comment.
But the White Sox catcher, hitting .180 overall following an 0-for-4 performance in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Angels, feels in good hitting position.
"Probably these last ... since Texas, I felt great every time in the box," Flowers said. "I've only managed to square up just a few, but as far as just how I feel in there, I feel dangerous when I'm in the box.
"It is a little frustrating when you look at the whole, not just the team, but for myself, this first month and whatever, I know we are all better than what we are doing: especially me. I know I can be better than what I'm doing. At the same time, you can't really, you try not to let it wear on you.
"I feel good," Flowers said. "Maybe it's just a matter of running into some tough pitching or not getting some real good pitches to hit."
Since January, when A.J. Pierzynski departed for Texas after eight years with the White Sox, Flowers has drawn focus as not just the new guy in the starting lineup, but also the young player replacing an organizational staple. At almost six weeks into the season, Flowers simply is a part of a slumping offense that ranks 15th in five different American League categories.
While Flowers feels dangerous, he understands results are the judgment more than feel. That fact doesn't mean Flowers has lost any confidence and believes his fortunes soon will turn.
"Just try to keep putting balls in play and get the barrel on it, because it's got to turn at some point. It's got to find the holes eventually," Flowers said. "Since the beginning of the [last] road trip, I've done in my opinion a pretty good job of battling in at-bats and swinging at overall good pitches, not really chasing too many things and putting balls in play.
"Right now, it seems like every ball I put in play is hit in the ground or one hopping right at someone, or just missing underneath to an outfielder. But I think one of the biggest things in this game is how you feel in the box. If you don't feel good, it probably won't be productive and I felt great this whole road trip. As long as I can continue feeling good and dangerous in the box, I think it's going to have to change."
White Sox looking to get most out of Konerko
CHICAGO -- Saturday's contest against the Angels marked Paul Konerko's 16th appearance as the White Sox designated hitter in 32 games. The 37-year-old Konerko played 105 games at first base last season, 111 in 2011, 125 in '10, 134 in '09 and he certainly will get his fair share at that defensive spot this season.
But even before Spring Training, manager Robin Ventura had expressed the desire to give Adam Dunn more time at first and give Konerko more days off without taking his bat out of the lineup.
"Everybody has been talked to. I'm not sneaking up on anybody," Ventura said with a smile. "He'll still get time at first base. I don't want him going out there feeling like he can't play. He can still play. It's more trying to get the most out of him."
Ventura never was a DH in the latter stages of his career, but did serve as a pinch-hitter. With a laugh, he admitted to rather having been a DH.
There also was a healthy dose of respect expressed for the classy Konerko in remaining a main cog for the lineup, and an even more important cog as a leader for the team and organization.
"It's really a feather in his cap that he's still that guy," Ventura said. "For a guy like Paul, who has been so big for one organization, he deserves a certain respect. He's been a pro the whole time no matter what and I think that's important."
Ventura looking for right mix with Keppinger
CHICAGO -- The original White Sox lineup for Saturday had Jeff Keppinger hitting eighth and playing second base. But Conor Gillaspie was scratched due to an upper respiratory issue, and Keppinger was moved to third with Tyler Greene starting at second.
Keppinger, who entered Saturday hitting .191 with six RBIs and without a walk this season, moved up to seventh in the lineup after hitting second in 26 games this season and fifth for one game.
"It's more mixing it up," manager Robin Ventura said of the lineup. "You know what the track record is [for Keppinger] and you are trying to get it out of him.
"He fits in a lot of different spots in the lineup, with the way he can handle the bat. So, hopefully there will be some guys on and he can knock in some runs."
Third to first
• Gordon Beckham took swings off a tee again prior to Saturday's game and would like to up his work to flips soon. He felt better taking swings than he did on Friday and still has a target return date somewhere between May 24-27 after a Minor League rehab stint.
• Alex Rios was 9-for-22 with two homers and four RBIs over his last five games entering Saturday. He was 6-for-45 (.133) in his previous 12 contests.
• The White Sox entered Saturday 20-for-71 (.282) with runners in scoring position over the last nine games, but were hitting just .211 overall in that category.
• Saturday was not only a Paul Konerko Bobblehead giveaway for the first 20,000 fans, but also Mother Son Night at U.S. Cellular Field in honor of Mother's Day on Sunday.