2/16/2014 7:27 P.M. ET
Multiple closer options impress Cooper early
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
GLENDALE -- After two days of Spring Training, White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper wants to make one point perfectly clear: there is no frontrunner for the team's vacant closer's job.
With that point made, Cooper raved about the way candidate Matt Lindstrom threw in Sunday's side session at Camelback Ranch.
"Lindstrom today, holy [cow], the ball out of his hand; it's got some life to it," Cooper said. Of Mitchell Boggs, he said: "The first time I'm actually seeing him close. Hey, I see what he's doing here. I kind of like it. Oh, knuckle curve."
Cooper added that fifth starter candidate Felipe Paulino is throwing without restrictions after surgery last September to remove a cyst from his shoulder. Paulino and Boggs, to some extent, would qualify as new members of the "Coop can fix him" club, a previously injured or struggling group that Cooper takes great pride in helping turn things around in Chicago.
"I like guys like that; we've done well with that," Cooper said. "If you do well with enough of those, it gives you a chance to keep your job.
"My goal is, I don't care who you are or how many years you're playing. Scotty Downs, I'm looking for you to have the best year you've ever had. I want you to have a career year with us, under my watch. Win. Keep your job, because I like being the pitching coach. We don't succeed on all of them, but I think we've done a pretty good job with it. And I do like those guys."
With time to spare, injured Jones opts to rest
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If Nate Jones had sustained his current moderate left glute strain during the regular season, the White Sox right-handed reliever would still be available to pitch.
Jones and the White Sox understand, though, that the 28-year-old is just two days into Spring Training and that there would be little reason to push him and possibly turn a minor malady into something major. So Jones will stay away from activity for three or four days to let the problem quiet down.
There did not seem to be a hint of concern coming from Jones on Sunday morning when he spoke with the media.
"To tell you the truth, whatever side it had been on, it's probably not that big of a deal," Jones said. "We're just trying to get ahead of it early before it becomes something bigger.
"Just some discomfort, and we've got time here in Spring Training to get rid of it. So let it calm down and see what happens."
Jones noticed the issue, which he felt when he was throwing, about 10 days ago. He could throw through it but alerted White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider to the discomfort on Friday.
Although Jones is considered the early frontrunner to assume the White Sox closer's role, he said he did not consider staying quiet and pitching with the pain.
"It's Spring Training, so we've got time to fix it and let it calm down, let it settle down," Jones said. "Once I get back out there, I'm still going to compete and attack and go after that job just like everybody else."
Treatment from Schneider and assistant athletic trainer Brian Ball stands as the big daily focus for Jones in Arizona. He believes the middle of next week is a reasonable target for a return to throwing.
"I believe it's nothing big," Jones said. "Just staying ahead of it, let it calm down."
Hoping it's enough, Davidson focuses on self
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Davidson does not need to study a White Sox depth chart to understand that Conor Gillaspie and Jeff Keppinger are battling for the same roster spot as he is. Still, the 22-year-old third baseman acquired from the D-backs for closer Addison Reed is not focused this Spring Training on beating out any one player.
Davidson is working solely on improving his own game.
"I really just want to make myself the best player I can; if that's breaking with the team or going to Triple-A," said Davidson, who reported to camp four days early. "I want to make sure that I don't try to win a job or try to do this. I don't want to come in and have a great spring and then at the end have no clue of what I'm doing. I want to have a process and work defensively and offensively.
"If I do that, it will take care of itself. I don't want to try to beat out just necessarily one person and then all of a sudden maybe they are gone. Then I'm sitting there and thinking, 'I beat him out, but it doesn't do me any good facing the opposition.'"
Keppinger has two years, $8.5 million remaining on his three-year deal, while Gillaspie is out of options. But if Davidson's plan works, he might force the White Sox hand. General manager Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura both said Davidson would be given a full chance to win a job.
"I'm just going to take care of myself," Davidson said. "Be a teammate and things, but not worry about how I fit in. Just be myself, and then eventually if I do make the roster, just help that team the way I do. Not try to beat anybody out necessarily."
Ventura still sees Jeter as greatest Yank
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Back in 2012, White Sox manager Robin Ventura told MLB.com's Marty Noble that Derek Jeter was the greatest Yankees player of them all.
Now that Jeter is retiring after the 2014 season, Ventura's opinion has not changed. The five-time World Series champion and former Ventura teammate is still No. 1.
"I've said before, I think he's the greatest Yankee ever just because of the teams he was on, how he played, his numbers and the time he did it," Ventura said. "It's a difficult time to be an athlete of his stature and come out of it the way he's coming out of it. He's respected by everybody that plays baseball and even outside. I have nothing but high regard for what Derek's done and how he went about it.
"There's not too many that have done what he has done. You congratulate him, and you're happy for him because he made that choice on his own. But he has had a great career. He's represented not only the Yankees but baseball on and off the field as good as anybody has ever done at a time when it's as difficult to do as any time."
White Sox players compare Jeter to Paul Konerko, their captain, who will end a highly successful and highly respected run with the White Sox after this season, his 16th with the club.
"Kind of the same thing," White Sox starter John Danks said of the two captains, adding that Jeter was "a guy that's highly respected and gone about it the right way. He's a Hall of Famer. It would be something cool to tell your grandkids one day you faced Derek Jeter."
Ventura: MLB would accept openly gay player
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There has never been an openly gay player on an active Major League Baseball roster, but White Sox manager Robin Ventura is fairly certain he has played alongside a gay player.
University of Missouri football prospect Michael Sam's recent announcement that he was gay prior to the NFL Draft was greeted with support from many players, and Ventura believes an openly gay player would be accepted in the MLB ranks.
"Hopefully he's a really good player; that's the first thing we would look at," Ventura said. "But it's grown to that point where it's going to happen. I'm sure I played with one. I'm not naïve enough to think it didn't happen. But to have openly in the locker room, I don't see it as big an issue as it has been in the past.
"It would take the first person to come out and say it, but then you adjust. I don't think it would be a big change as far as the way guys are and the way the game is right now. Again, there's been one in the locker room. It has already happened. It hasn't openly happened."
Third to first
• A handful of young position players are already at White Sox camp, working informally with hitting coach Todd Steverson and third-base coach and infield instructor Joe McEwing, among others.