6/12/2014 8:51 P.M. ET
Lefty Danks going at hitters from the right angle
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- For those asking if John Danks has returned to his pre-surgery form with four straight dominant starts, allowing just five earned runs in his last 29 1/3 innings, the southpaw's answer is a resounding yes.
But it's not so much about the results for Danks, as much as the way he's throwing the ball.
Following a rough May 18 start against the Astros (seven earned runs on 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings), Danks increased the frequency of his bullpen sessions between starts. Those shorter sessions with pitching coach Don Cooper caused him to lower his arm angle a bit, which has helped produce the livelier raw stuff and the improved results.
Danks has no idea why his arm angle got higher after arthroscopic left shoulder surgery in August 2012.
"I wish I knew, and I wish I would have noticed it earlier," Danks said. "I almost feel like I'm back to where I was before. I'm actually back to where I was before I got hurt. It just took some time to get there.
"Rather than getting my body weight on my heels, I'm trying to stay more on the balls of my feet. Keep my head kind of in front of my body if you will. It keeps you from falling off and it helps me to have better command and so far, so good."
Crucial numbers for Danks during this four-start run are just six walks and one home run. Houston tagged him for three on May 18 alone.
"That was the goal set when Coop and I sat down this offseason," Danks said. "Keep the walks where they were last year and keep the ball in the ballpark. Take my chances. I know I have a long way to go, but I definitely like where we are at now."
Abreu focused on health, helping White Sox contend
CHICAGO -- Jose Abreu isn't buying into the hype.
Sure, the White Sox first baseman has heard talk about a potential All-Star appearance in his first Major League season. He also gets immediately mentioned with Yankees hurler Masahiro Tanaka and Houston outfielder George Springer when 2014 American League Rookie of the Year discussions begin.
But in keeping with a humble style he has shown since arriving with the White Sox, Abreu has his full attention placed elsewhere.
"I don't really think about those things," said Abreu through interpreter and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "I just think about being healthy all the time. I think about being healthy every day and being able to help the team.
"That's the biggest thing with me. You know, the other part, those are the things that are great, but they are out there and it's too early to be thinking about those things."
The statistics pretty much speak for themselves where Abreu is concerned. He has served as a driving force behind the club's somewhat unexpected push to AL Central contention and leads all rookies in homers, RBIs, slugging percentage, runs scored and OPS. Springer ranks second in all of those categories, except for his third-place standing in runs scored.
Tanaka, meanwhile, leads all rookie hurlers in wins and strikeouts. He tops the AL with his 2.02 ERA, while Abreu leads in slugging percentage. Abreu's humble nature not only impresses his teammates but those whom he has gone deep against in competition.
"See, I love the way the carries himself. He just goes about his business," said Detroit manager Brad Ausmus. "He's not flashy. He does his job. I mean, he's been impressive."
Aggressive De Aza, Alexei must learn to give way
CHICAGO -- Shortstop Alexei Ramirez and left fielder Alejandro De Aza collided once while going for a popup during Wednesday's 8-2 victory, causing the ball to drop out of Ramirez's glove, although it still resulted in a force at second. They had one other near-collision later in the game.
Some may solely blame these miscues on De Aza, who has had an uneven season defensively in left. But manager Robin Ventura pointed to the aggressiveness from Ramirez as another factor.
"It will happen with a guy, especially a shortstop who is in charge of the infield who doesn't want to give way," Ventura said. "He needs to understand that any time an outfielder calls him off, he needs to get out of the way.
"They need to understand that they need to peel off and let the outfielder get it. They have that responsibility. It happens to every team I would say five times a year."
Ventura doesn't have a pure late-inning defensive outfield replacement with the way the roster is constructed. It showed during the ninth inning Monday, when Moises Sierra lost a ball in the lights in right and De Aza couldn't grab Alex Avila's long drive to the wall in left.
"Right now we have one, which is Sierra, so we don't have a ton of outfielders sitting around," Ventura said. "We'd like it to be better than it was the other night. But right now that's what it is."
Nieto staying prepared despite limited action
CHICAGO -- Adrian Nieto has just 48 at-bats this season, but continues to put together quality at-bats such as the walk he drew off of Justin Verlander during a seven-run sixth inning Wednesday night.
Extensive side work has helped Nieto contribute offensively even in limited playing time behind Tyler Flowers.
"There's been gradual stuff that you see of different at-bats in different situations that have been helpful for him," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "Making that jump is not always easy."
That jump has taken the Rule 5 selection from the Carolina League in '13 to the Majors in '14 as a de facto personal catcher for John Danks. Ventura likes how they work together and that the veteran Danks sort of sets the tone for how his game is going to play out. But Ventura also knows Nieto will have a chance to catch other starters, and the rookie will be ready.
"Being around all these guys, they've helped me a lot and [pitching coach Don Cooper] has been huge," Nieto said. "Even when I'm not in the game, I'm still reading these scouting reports just in case anything happens or a switch. Everybody's been helping me out a lot, so it makes it easier."
Third to first
• The White Sox acquired outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo from Toronto in exchange for cash considerations. Tuiasosopo, 28, is a .207 hitter with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs over 152 Major League games with Seattle (2008-10) and Detroit (2013). He will report to Triple-A Charlotte.
• Avisail Garcia celebrated his 23rd birthday Thursday by playing catch on the field under the watchful eyes of White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider. It was Garcia's first on-field baseball activity since he sustained a torn labrum and avulsion fracture in his left shoulder on April 9 while diving for a fly ball to right in Colorado. Garcia had done some baseball activity indoors prior to Thursday.
• Right-handed throwing Javy Guerra has held left-handed hitters to one hit in 13 at-bats since joining the White Sox.
• Former Northern Illinois University quarterback and current Bears running back Jordan Lynch threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches on Thursday.