3/16/2014 3:04 P.M. ET
Danks knows rotation alignment is getting close
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- John Danks previously has said that he doesn't care where he falls in the White Sox starting rotation behind Opening Day starter Chris Sale. He knows that decision will be coming soon with a little less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training and he understands the factors in the arrangement of the starting five.
"In years past, I know we wanted to break up the lefties," said Danks, who allowed three runs on seven hits over five innings and 74 pitches against the Rangers on Sunday in a 14-8 loss. "I'm a realist. I'm the third lefty in the rotation. I don't have an ego with that. I'm just happy to be healthy and looking to contribute."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura admitted Sunday that he basically knows his starting five, with Jose Quintana, Felipe Paulino and Erik Johnson joining Sale and Danks. But with the White Sox still figuring out their bullpen plans, the one-through-five in the rotation is not yet a priority.
"With Chris going the first day, everything beyond that can change," Ventura said. "Looking at weather, and where we're traveling to. I'm not real concerned about it right now with how that's going to go."
Nieto learns about uncertainty of Rule 5 Draft
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For the past month, Adrian Nieto has worked long hours in an attempt to break camp as one of the two White Sox catchers.
But by the start of April, Nieto could be part of the Washington Nationals organization once again. Such is the life of a Rule 5 Draft selection.
"That would be weird, going back to the Nationals after being here for six weeks and getting accustomed to these guys over the time," said Nieto, before finishing 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs while throwing out a would-be basestealer in a 14-8 loss to the Rangers Sunday. "If that does happen, it won't be that big of a change. I've been over there for six years.
"I do think about the scenarios and what can happen but not too much. I try to come out there and focus on doing my job and working hard and giving everything I got."
Nieto, 24, has impressed the organization with both his catching and preparation. His offense also has come along over the course of Spring Training. There's still the issue, though, of Nieto being ready to make the jump from the Carolina League in 2013 to staying on a big league roster for the entirety of 2014.
If the White Sox decide not to keep Nieto, he'll be put through waivers first. Assuming every other team passes on putting him in the Majors, the White Sox would have to offer Nieto back to Washington as a non-roster player for $25,000, and if they say no, then the White Sox can outright him to the Minors.
This experience is being looked at as a positive by Nieto, regardless of the result. He has learned about handling a pitching staff and has seen up close the difference in Major League pitching vs. the Minors. His goal is to leave no opportunity behind.
"Not many guys are given this opportunity. I see it like that," Nieto said. "I'm trying to make the most of it. At the end of the day, I can say I gave it my best, 100 percent, and didn't leave anything out there."
A decision on the backup won't be made until the end of camp per White Sox manager Robin Ventura. But he reiterated Sunday that Tyler Flowers looks to be the team's starter.
"He's done well," said Ventura of Flowers. "He's picking up offensively to where he has a solid plan when he goes up there."
Davidson feeling good at the plate
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Matt Davidson started Cactus League competition with just two doubles in his first 18 at-bats. But it was a solid 2-for-18 in the mind of the White Sox full-time third baseman of the future, who has honestly felt great at the plate all spring.
"I wasn't striking out all the time. I was hitting balls hard," Davidson said. "Nothing bad, and now I got the timing down pretty good. Doing the same thing every at-bat. I'm completely happy with the way everything has happened. It's going how I wanted it to go."
Much of the focus with Davidson has fallen upon his defense at third, which has come a long way even from a mid-January hitters' minicamp in Glendale. But his offensive production has stepped up since that slow start with three hits in eight at-bats and his only Cactus League homer.
Davidson still might not break camp with the team, even if Jeff Keppinger and Gordon Beckham start the 2014 campaign on the disabled list due to shoulder and oblique issues, respectively. But the 23-year-old believes he's in a good place to contribute when he's called upon.
"For me, it's the timing and I'm swinging at good pitches," said Davidson of his preparation with the bat. "I do walk a lot. And I do kind of go in spurts. The biggest thing for me is even my strikeouts, I would say I'm almost a streaky hitter as my career has gone.
"I'll have a great couple of weeks and then a bad couple of weeks. In those bad weeks, that's when all my strikeouts come. I'm not a guy who just swings and misses a lot. But they come in bunches. My timing gets bad: That trigger timing and getting the timing in the same spot every time."
Cleto learning as he competes
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Maikel Cleto is out of options, and the White Sox risk losing the hard-throwing right-hander if he doesn't break camp with the team. But Cleto seems to be earning his way into one of those final bullpen slots.
He struck out two over two scoreless innings Saturday night against the Dodgers and has been working hard in side sessions with pitching coach Don Cooper.
"I have been working with him on location and working also with the breaking pitch a little bit," said Cleto through translator and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "It has been good.
"How to use my fastball. And with the changeup, more so the location and the selection of the pitch with the changeup."
Cleto was claimed off waivers from the Royals on February 26 and already feels a fit with the White Sox.
"The staff has given me the confidence," Cleto said. "I feel really good here."
Third to first
• A Cactus League debut has not yet been set for Matt Lindstrom, per Ventura's postgame comments Sunday. Lindstrom threw a second side session Saturday and reported no issues with his strained left oblique that has kept him out of game action.
"It's the same thing with Gordon (Beckham)," said Ventura of Lindstrom. "You have to make sure he's completely healthy and can do it repeatedly before you send him out there and do it again.
"We have enough going on with mixing up the lineup and everything with Gordon being out. I have to talk with (White Sox head athletic trainer) Herm (Schneider) before I say anything about that."
• Former White Sox outfielder and two-sport star Bo Jackson will visit White Sox camp from March 17-22. He will serve as a special instructor after being named a White Sox community ambassador on Jan. 22, 2014.
• Zach Putnam allowed his first run in seven appearances courtesy of a J.P. Arencibia grand slam during Sunday's 14-8 loss to the Rangers. Only one run was charged to Putnam.