3/6/2014 8:22 P.M. ET
Danks pleased with sharpness of cutter
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Thursday's three-inning scoreless effort for John Danks against the Mariners simply marked the southpaw's first 2014 Cactus League appearance, with his scheduled debut rained out last Saturday.
But Danks already noticed a significant difference in comparison to his 22 starts from 2013, when he was making a comeback from arthroscopic shoulder surgery in August 2012. That difference centers on his cutter.
"We actually worked on throwing it to both sides of the plate, and that was effective," Danks said. "It was around the zone, had a sharp break on it. That's where I expected to be at this point. Keep on improving, but I'm really pleased with how it was so far."
As far as specific refinement with the cutter, Danks said it was about strengthening and "being able to get my arm where it needs to be, and have enough behind it to spin it right and make it move."
"Last year, I had trouble spinning it, and it was backing up on me and getting hit," Danks said. "This year, I'm able to drive the ball where I want, and that was proved being able to throw it to both sides of the plate with the sharp break on it."
Harrelson pays tribute to Fregosi
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When White Sox television play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson first heard about Jim Fregosi's untimely passing, he admitted that, "I cried."
"Jimmy and I were really close, obviously," said Harrelson of Fregosi, who passed away on Feb. 14 after experiencing a stroke on a cruise. "But on one side of the page, I'm just glad he didn't have to suffer loss of quality of life. That's the good thing about it.
"Baseball is going to miss him. Everybody loves Jimmy. He always had, he had more b.s. than I did. That was one of the reasons we got along so well."
Harrelson was general manager of the White Sox in 1986 when he hired Fregosi in-season to replace Tony La Russa as manager. One of the reasons for the hire was that Fregosi understood pitching about as well as any manager Harrelson has ever witnessed. Fregosi managed through the 1988 season with the White Sox, compiling a 193-226 record.
"He was a terrific asset to the game, and that's the way you judge people. Was he a negative or a positive?" Harrelson said. "He was a positive. He was very instrumental in the success of the Braves. I don't think they made a move without him. I know [Braves president John] Schuerholz adored him. So I'm just going to remember him for all the good things."
There was a lot of good living put into Fregosi's 71 years by his friend's estimation.
"Let me tell you what, he did," said Harrelson with a smile. "He put about 120 [years] into 71."
Closer uncertainty to remain until options healthy
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ask White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper about the team's closer situation and he quickly features an incredulous look, as if such a question makes no sense with three weeks left in Spring Training.
"It's a real long way to go," Cooper said. "And we haven't had our guys out there."
Nate Jones, who has been sidelined since the start of camp with a moderate left glute strain, officially made the list of Cactus League pitchers for Saturday's home game against the D-backs. Daniel Webb, who returned home because of a death in the family, is expected back in the coming days, while Mitchell Boggs allowed two runs in his one inning of work against the Mariners on Thursday.
Matt Lindstrom was shut down after aggravating a left oblique strain while playing long toss Tuesday. But Cooper pointed out what manager Robin Ventura has already mentioned in that there's still plenty of time for Lindstrom to get healthy.
"We are taking precautionary stuff with Lindstrom," Cooper said. "Prior to him having trouble, he was throwing the ball extremely well, but we want him out there when he's right."
"I just want to get them all back and get them going on a regular basis. That's what they need, first and foremost. The naming of jobs, that's going to come last."
Ventura understands that there won't be a large closing sample size to choose from because of their lack of work.
"At that point, you try to figure that out when they get healthy and they start throwing," Ventura said. "Right now, I would say I don't have a large sample size for everybody."
Third to first
• Courtney Hawkins, the team's first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, made his Cactus League debut Thursday at Camelback Ranch. Hawkins played left field and struck out looking in the eighth against Tom Wilhelmsen during the Mariners' 7-4 victory.
• Danks threw to catcher Adrian Nieto for the first time in a game situation Thursday at Camelback Ranch and gave the Rule 5 pickup high marks.
"There were a couple of times we kind of got off-kilter together, but he's willing to move around, willing to call anything," said Danks. "He talked to me before the game about what we wanted to work on and made sure to keep going back to that if there was any doubt. He helped me out a lot today, and he's a good ballplayer."
Ventura said that Nieto looks good catching, while the switch-hitter looks a little stronger hitting from the left side at this point.
• Ventura joked about Jose Abreu hitting his first home run, against the Royals on Thursday, without him in attendance.
"Apparently I need to go away and he'll hit homers," Ventura said. "But I do plan on being at every game, so hopefully he can hit them when I'm around."