4/2/2014 2:05 P.M. ET
Danks can't wait to make season debut
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- At least three days stand between John Danks and his first 2014 regular-season start, depending in part on the weather in Chicago on Thursday.
With the cutter back in his arsenal and greater arm strength 20 months removed from season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery in August 2012, Danks can't wait to take the baseball. The highly competitive veteran also will be facing Kansas City with a definite feeling of something to prove, even in his eighth Major League season.
"Of course I do," Danks said of having the sense of something to prove. "There were a lot of expectations from people here, fans, media. But none more than what I have on myself, and I've fallen way short the last couple of years.
"I'd be the first to admit that. It has not been easy. It has not been fun. I certainly feel like I have plenty of time to make up for that and to get back to where I know I can be."
Danks, who turns 29 on April 15, could emerge as one of the most important components in the White Sox reshaping program. Adding a pitcher who looks something like the 2008-10 version of Danks, with an ERA in the 3.50-3.75 range and around 200 innings pitched, makes an already solid starting rotation even stronger.
The interesting part for Danks, who is in Year 3 of a five-year, $65 million extension, is that he will help with the current youth movement but might not be around to see the ultimate fruition of this organization-wide makeover. A talented and healthy starter is always attractive to contenders, but Danks isn't worried about such a scenario.
In fact, he hopes that contender is on the South Side of Chicago this season.
"I signed here for five years. I plan on being here for five years, but I have no control over what happens," Danks said. "If something happens, I'll shake everyone's hand and thank them for giving me the opportunity for being here. As of right now, I'm here with the White Sox and plan on being here for another three years.
"Certainly, I took my lumps last year and the year before. You know, put in a lot of work, had a lot of people help me out and I'm ready to go and get back to where I know I need to be and can be."
Viciedo content with White Sox outfield platoon
CHICAGO -- After his two-homer Opening Day effort, Alejandro De Aza was back in Wednesday's starting lineup. That move means Dayan Viciedo remained on the bench.
General manager Rick Hahn told MLB.com Monday that the De Aza/Viciedo left-field situation could break down as easily as a lefty/righty platoon. But he also stressed that De Aza had a great Spring Training and that the team and Viciedo are on the same page in terms of what they want from him. Now, they just want to see those talks between Viciedo and hitting coach Todd Steverson executed in games.
"Basically, being more patient," Viciedo said through translator and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz, of what the White Sox want. "We talked about being more patient and being more selective as far as the pitches that we pick to hit.
"We worked on that during Spring Training. We had pretty good results. It's a matter of staying consistent."
Viciedo is working in the cage through tee work and soft toss to stay sharp and keep ready for when his name is called. His ultimate goal clearly is to play every day, as is the case for any 25-year-old possessing Viciedo's ability.
"Yes, that's what every player wants. I want to play every day," Viciedo said. "But right now, you have to deal with what you have. You have to stay sharp. So when you get a chance to play, then you are able to do that and be able to help the team."
Jones ready to help bullpen in any capacity
CHICAGO -- Nate Jones wanted to be the White Sox closer.
As he pointed out prior to Wednesday's contest, it's something many White Sox relievers wanted to do, and it's why they had a Spring Training competition of sorts.
"It just so happened Matt Lindstrom got healthy, he did well in the outings he had and he did well Monday as well," said Jones of Lindstrom, who picked up the save in Monday's 5-3 victory. "Our job now is to get the ball to him with the lead."
Jones will serve as a key relief contributor in anywhere from the sixth through the eighth, and possibly even close if Lindstrom needs a break. The hard-throwing right-hander spoke during Spring Training about how every pitcher working in those late innings with a lead basically is working as an unofficial closer.
Jones' 37 appearances of more than one inning over the last two years add to his value outside of the ninth. And he's set to take on any role given to him by manager Robin Ventura.
"The only thing that matters to me is I'm still on the team, still in the bullpen," Jones said. "I'm still excited, still ready to rock and roll, get the season going."
"We were waiting for [Lindstrom] to make sure he was completely healthy coming out of spring to be able to do that, but he's done it before and you have a little familiarity with him last year coming in," Ventura said of the closer call. "That scenario of him coming in with a clean inning, I just like it. I liked it when he did that last year, and I just felt he was the right guy to do it."
Hahn likes pitching talent in 2014 Draft class
CHICAGO -- General manager Rick Hahn knows the White Sox will get a good player with the third selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. He just isn't certain who that player will be at this point.
"[White Sox director of amateur scouting] Doug Laumann and his staff, we had a meeting back in Glendale in the last week of camp where went through a lot of different guys and went through that small universe of players from which we'll ultimately choose," Hahn said. "Now we're starting to work on our cross-checking in the coming weeks.
"Frankly, part of the benefit of the lousy season last year isn't just the player you get at three but the larger signing pool that allows you to get even better players throughout the entire Draft. I don't know the exact number, but it's going to be close to $10 million we'll have to spend on domestic talent this year, which is a tremendous shot in the arm for the organization."
After picking third, the White Sox also have the 44th and 78th picks overall. The organization is looking for the best player available at No. 3, but it should easily be able to narrow that field selecting so high.
"Based on this year's talent pool, it's a strong possibility that's going to be a pitcher," Hahn said of that first-round pick.
Third to first
• Conor Gillaspie was out of Wednesday's lineup due to the flu. Marcus Semien, who started at second on Opening Day, moved to third base and Leury Garcia stepped in at second and hitting ninth.
Ventura likes the flexibility provided by players such as Semien and Garcia.
"Anytime you can move guys around ... if something like this comes up you can slot guys and move them around," Ventura said. "The versatility of Marcus and Leury, you can fill that spot without feeling vulnerable and exposed."
• Chris Sale won his second straight Opening Day start Monday one day after celebrating his 25th birthday.
• De Aza became the fourth player in White Sox history to hit two home runs on Opening Day, joining Jim Thome (2008 at Cleveland), Sammy Sosa (1991 at Baltimore) and Minnie Minoso (1960 vs. Kansas City).