3/1/2014 4:05 P.M. ET
White Sox set to give Nieto game-action test
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's hard for White Sox Minor League catching instructor John Orton to get an accurate take on Adrian Nieto until he gets into action Sunday afternoon against the Rangers in Surprise, Ariz.
But even with Nieto's impressive early work, Orton knows moving from the Carolina League to the Major Leagues in the course of one offseason is a difficult challenge for the switch-hitting backstop.
"Good first impression of just the way his hands work, the way he handles himself," said Orton of Nieto. "I like the look in his eye when he's talking with the pitchers and working with the staff. There's some ability there for sure.
"You don't see many catchers go from [Class] A ball to the big leagues. It's a big jump for that position, more than any other position."
Despite cancellation, Danks gets pitching in
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- John Danks' pitching plan didn't change Saturday.
Just his venue did.
The focus for Danks' scheduled first Cactus League start was fastball and changeup but also working the cutter inside to left-handed hitters. His three innings of getting up and down and throwing 45-to-50 pitches simply took place against teammates in the White Sox batting cage, as opposed to against the Indians at Camelback Ranch, as Saturday's game was canceled due to inclement weather.
Danks was eager to get into a game, but he was more than satisfied with his work against hitters such as Adam Dunn and his brother, Jordan.
"Everything felt good," Danks said. "I was pleased with the cutter. I was able to make it move and actually started playing with it on the opposite side of the plate. It's a good sign that it's moving enough that I feel comfortable and Coop [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] feels comfortable working into a lefty.
"It gives me another pitch. I have to do something to get lefties out more consistently, and I think I might have found something."
Saturday's cancellation also pushed Dylan Axelrod and Eric Surkamp into the cages for two innings apiece, while Chris Beck threw one frame. All other pitchers set for Saturday threw a sideline session and will be back on the schedule Monday, with Sunday staying the same.
"There's plenty of games and innings to be had out here," said Danks, whose next start comes Thursday, most likely at home against Seattle as the White Sox are slated for split-squad action. "You're working on throwing pitches in to your own team, there's that little doubt in the back of your head you don't want to hit them.
"If it's the other team, you don't really care that much, or any at all. It will be all right. I'll be back out there in five days."
Mild oblique strain doesn't worry Lindstrom
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Lindstrom had very little concern over his mild left oblique strain that cost him one scheduled inning of work in Friday's Cactus League opener.
"Probably zero," Lindstrom told reporters on Saturday morning. "I'm good. Just kind of felt something. I threw a light 15-pitch side [session] on Wednesday and I felt something very minor, but we're trying to take the necessary precautions so it doesn't turn into something big.
"I was supposed to throw [Friday], but we decided to back off a little bit. I plan on being out there again [Sunday], maybe even [Saturday]. I don't feel it. The main test is coughing and sneezing. Feeling pretty good, pretty optimistic."
The plan was to re-evaluate Lindstrom on Saturday, but with the abundance of overnight rain, he wasn't a likely candidate to throw against the Indians during the White Sox home Cactus League opener at Camelback Ranch, which was canceled due to inclement weather. Lindstrom has never had oblique problems before, but he heard it can be serious if tested or pushed before feeling right.
"I'm glad it happened right now as opposed to later in March or during the season," said Lindstrom, who also felt something when getting ready for the game Friday. "If it happened during the season, it wouldn't be a big deal and I'd probably keep trying to pitch through it or something. Right now, I want to make sure everything's good and I'm ready for the season.
"It was new to me, too, but I know what it is now, just because that's what guys tell me -- when you cough and sneeze and stuff, you kind of feel something. I was just out over my front leg and I felt a little tweak. It's no big deal. I have no problems bending over or twisting side to side, so I'm not that concerned."
Lindstrom, Nate Jones and Daniel Webb are considered the three top candidates to fill the White Sox closer vacancy. Jones has been bothered by a moderate left glute strain since the start of camp, and Webb returned home to Kentucky on Friday due to a death in the family.
Contract terms agreed upon for 24 White Sox
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox agreed to terms on 2014 contracts with 24 players. They are:
Pitchers (12): Maikel Cleto, Frank De Los Santos, Erik Johnson, Nate Jones, Charlie Leesman, Nestor Molina, Jake Petricka, Jose Quintana, Andre Rienzo, Eric Surkamp, Donnie Veal and Daniel Webb.
Catchers (2): Adrian Nieto and Josh Phegley.
Infielders (5): Matt Davidson, Leury Garcia, Conor Gillaspie, Carlos Sanchez and Marcus Semien.
Outfielders (5): Jordan Danks, Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, Jared Mitchell and Trayce Thompson.
Quintana was at the top of this group at $550,000, with Jones next at $545,000. All members of the White Sox 40-man roster are under contract for the 2014 season.
Third to first
• Jeff Keppinger's sore right shoulder is slowly getting better, per White Sox manager Robin Ventura.
"We'll expect him to hit in the next couple of days," Ventura said. "And then throwing is just gradual."
Keppinger served as designated hitter in Tuesday's intrasquad game but has not been in any of the three starting lineups for Cactus League games.
• Maikel Cleto threw his first live batting-practice session Saturday for the White Sox.
"He has a good arm," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper of Cleto, who was claimed off waivers Wednesday from the Royals. "He threw batting practice today, and it looked to go fine. The first set was better than the second. He has a good arm and we'll see what we can do with him."
• Catcher Josh Phegley was scratched from Saturday's pre-rainout lineup due to feeling under the weather. Ventura doesn't expect Phegley in action Sunday in Surprise, with Tyler Flowers and Nieto handling the catching.
• With Saturday's cancellation and Sunday's trip to the Oscars, Adam Dunn won't see game action until Tuesday against the Indians. Missing a few days is not the end of the world for a veteran such as Dunn, but he wants to get his Cactus League at-bats.
"I use Spring Training to get ready for Opening Day," Dunn said. "Spring Training to me is not like Spring Training for everyone else. I need Spring Training, it's what I work on. It's what gets me ready for the season."
• Count Cubs manager Rick Renteria as a supporter of the White Sox decision to let Dunn go to the Academy Awards to support his movie, "Dallas Buyers Club."
"I'd be pretty impressed, quite frankly, if somebody was invited to do that," Renteria said. "He's a guy with quite a few years of experience under his belt. I think managers in this situation would give him some leeway and allow him an opportunity of a lifetime.
"Not everybody gets to go to the Oscars. You never know who you could rub elbows with."