4/30/2014 6:30 P.M. ET
Early offense giving White Sox confidence
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Before Spring Training came to an end, starting pitcher John Danks made a prediction concerning what he expected from the 2014 White Sox.
"I felt like this team was going to be better than people expected and fun to watch," said Danks, recounting the prediction before the White Sox took on the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon. "I think I hit the nail on the head with both of them so far."
The White Sox entered the series finale with a .500 record: not exactly the stuff predicting championships. But it has been the way in which they have hit that 14-14 mark that has caused excitement, with an offense that has scored 56 more runs compared to the same point of the season last year.
Buzz began for the White Sox in the offseason, with general manager Rick Hahn adding Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton to the mix with previously acquired Avisail Garcia. But when a team hits as the White Sox have as a whole, there's a different feel around the group.
Other teams have taken notice, not to mention scouts, who believe the White Sox can contend with good pitching. And manager Robin Ventura knows the White Sox need to supplement the offense in order to keep this good feeling going.
"In the end, you always know you have to pitch and play defense," Ventura said. "There's a lot of different things that have to happen for teams to win even to get into the playoffs that you have to do a little bit of everything to be able to do it.
"I don't believe you are just going to score nine runs per game. It just doesn't happen. You eventually have to pitch and play defense and run the bases. You have to do everything better than just hitting the ball."
Count Danks as one of many White Sox players who is buying into the early results.
"We know what we need to do, and we've just got to go out there and do it now," Danks said. "This team is fun to play on. I don't have any doubts in my mind that we will be there at the end."
Sox may opt for rehab start with Sale
CHICAGO -- Robin Ventura had a slight change of heart Wednesday where a Minor League rehab start and Chris Sale are concerned.
Sale is on the disabled list retroactive to April 18 with a flexor muscle strain in his left arm. Ventura had said earlier this week that Sale probably wouldn't need to go to the Minors to test his recovery before returning to the mound for the White Sox, having not done so in the past after being shut down for an extended period. But the manager sounded Wednesday as if Sale might need more than a simulated game.
"When he keeps throwing, you hear feedback that he gives," said Ventura of Sale, who was scheduled to play long toss Wednesday. "He'll know when he's able to get on there and know when he's closer.
"Right now, he's getting closer, but I think if you keep going, he might end up getting to a point where he might have to go do one rehab start, something short. I know in the past we've done some simulated games, which would have to happen first, and we would talk about that. If it keeps going further and further, we'll probably get closer to doing a rehab assignment."
Both Ventura and White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper don't have a time in mind for a bullpen/side session for Sale, who will not pitch this weekend in Cleveland when he's eligible to come off the disabled list. Ventura also wouldn't state categorically that Sale will first need that Minor League rehab appearance.
"No, no. I don't know for sure it's going to happen, but it is a possibility," Ventura said. "I can't guarantee that's going to happen.
"He's feeling better. But before you send him out there you want him to feel really good. That's the reason for keep holding him off."
Alexei sets Sox mark for hits in April/March
CHICAGO -- Alexei Ramirez hit in a franchise-record 17 straight games to start the 2014 season. And on Wednesday, he added another not in the record books, breaking Paul Konerko's franchise record for most hits in March/April with a fourth-inning single in a 5-1 loss to the Tigers to give him 40 overall. Ramirez has hit in 27 of his first 29 games this season to join Buck Weaver (1920) as the only player in White Sox history to accomplish such a feat.
The shortstop exited Wednesday's contest leading the American League in hitting at .351 and with yet another record in tow.
"I didn't know anything about it until yesterday," said Ramirez, through interpreter and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "Paul Konerko told me about it, and I just kept going the same way I've been going."
Konerko, who has played alongside Ramirez since the latter was a rookie in '08, believes that the durable White Sox shortstop should get 200 hits this season for the first time in his career. Manager Robin Ventura feels Ramirez's changed hitting style gives him a chance to stay in that American League batting race all season.
"This year, more than anything, because his hits are different," Ventura said. "Last year, everything was really in a pull mode for him. Then he started hitting second, started a little higher up in the lineup and started moving the ball the other way, then wanted to hit some homers and started pulling it.
"Right now, I don't think he really has a thought of what he's trying to do. He's just really trying to put it on the barrel, I think he's balanced. He's just in a better position to hit this year than he was at any point last year."
Ramirez, 32, had a career-high 181 hits and 30 stolen bases last season, while hitting .284. The career .277 hitter has a chance to race past that number this season.
"Any time you're talking about winning a batting title or getting 200 hits, you gotta hit the ball in April," Ventura said. "Your months have to be consistent."
"He always has hot months. They usually come later in the year," said Konerko of Ramirez. "There's no telling what he can do this year if he's off to the start he's off to, because it has always taken him a couple months to heat up and he's already clicking."
Vet arms in Minors may benefit White Sox
CHICAGO -- Rick Hahn has been adding veteran pitching options to the White Sox system since the end of March.
Frank Francisco has not allowed an earned run over four innings pitched and three games for Triple-A Charlotte. Javy Guerra has a 2.13 ERA over eight games, and Tommy Hanson threw five no-hit innings in his second start for the Knights, with a third start scheduled for Friday. This trio gives the White Sox options without having to give up anyone in return.
"Both Francisco and Hanson essentially had to go to extended [spring camp] to build up arm strength and now join the [Charlotte] club and are still sort of building up their in-season regimen," Hahn said. "Hanson has had two starts, and he's progressing really well.
"All three of those guys could very realistically be factors," Hahn said.
The White Sox 40-man roster sits at 40, meaning a corresponding move would be needed if one of these three eventually were added.
Third to first
• Conor Gillaspie gave a highly positive report on the left hand contusion that placed him on the disabled list retroactive to April 22. Rest from hitting has allowed the area to heal and should have Gillaspie eligible to return when he's eligible the middle of next week.
• Right-handed starter Felipe Paulino will embark on a Minor League rehab assignment this weekend. Paulino was placed on the disabled list April 19 with right rotator cuff soreness.
• Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Tigers was the first in White Sox history when the pitching staff struck out 14 or more without issuing a walk, per STATS LLC.