Entering this season, one of the questions I had was, “Can John Danks take another step forward to become a dominating, All-Star caliber pitcher?”
Although Danks has looked good at times (inconsistency has always been his Achilles Heel), he has now fallen to 0-6 as a result of his subpar performance last night in the 6-2 loss to the Halos. It’s especially disheartening in that the loss ended the Sox momentum at three straight wins.
Danks’ disappointing effort came on the heels of Ozzie‘s official announcement that for the next 20 games the Sox will go with a six-man rotation. It accomplishes at least three things:
1. It makes room for Jake Peavy
2. It keeps the surprising Phil Humber in the rotation
3. It will give some extra rest to the other pitchers, especially Mark Buehrle
The “new look” pitching staff debuts tonight with Peavy making his first start of the year. It’s a key game, providing an early indication if the former Cy Young Award winner can have an impact as well as giving the opportunity for the Sox to win their second straight series on the West Coast.
With a season high three straight victories, Sox fans can begin to take the bags off their heads and start to believe there might be a season after all.
While we’re hardly out of the woods, Carlos Quentin‘s 3 for 4, 5 RBI night that included a three-run homer, Gordon Beckham‘s 2 for 4 with a two-run blast, two-hit nights from Alexei Ramirez and Adam Dunn and seven shutout innings from Edwin Jackson in an 8-0 victory over the Angels will do that to the faithful.
Apart from the recent winning streak, the big news is that Jake Peavy will make his debut on Wednesday. What he can contribute and what it does to the surprising Phil Humber is anybody’s guess. Could some semblance of a six-man rotation be forthcoming?
BASEBALL IS A FUNNY GAME: Last year during spring training converted infielder Sergio Santos‘s future was uncertain. However, after an impressive spring on the mound he made the ballclub–a moment emotionally captured by MLB Network cameras for the series, “The Club.” Now, a year later, he is the club’s unofficial closer and has yet to give up a run in 2011. He gave up nada during the spring and has yet to be scored upon in 15 1/3 innings of the regular season. it’s a bit early to think about All-Star Game selections but Santos, along with Paul Konerko, have to be the favorites to represent the White Sox. Just think, an All-Star candidate for the A.L. pitching staff who was a shortstop and third baseman just two short years ago.
The White Sox can’t officially announce their final moves before leaving Glendale, but it seems the word is out:
—Lastings Milledge and Brent Lillibridge have both made the 25-man roster as the South Siders have decided, at least for now, to go with an 11-man pitching staff.
—Jeff Marquez, thought to have secured the “seventh spot” in the bullpen, has been placed on waivers. Since he is out of options, he needs to clear the waiver wire before he returns to the Sox organization. This means that Philip Humber will fill the “fifth starter/long man out of the bullpen” role for the time being.
—Jake Peavy (shoulder) and Dayan Viciedo (thumb) will start the season on the disabled list.
Sox play the Reds this afternoon, their last game at Camelback Ranch this spring. They travel to Surprise to play the Royals tomorrow, then break camp and head to Winston-Salem to face their Class A farm club there. After a day off Thursday, it’s Opening Day vs. the Tribe in Cleveland.
White Sox fans have been holding their collective breath this spring during Jake Peavy‘s recovery from shoulder surgery. But, with each performance, he seemed to be getting stronger and it appeared he was right on schedule to start the season in Chicago.
Before this afternoon’s game at Camelback Ranch against the Dodgers, Peavy and the Sox announced that the righthander was being shut down because of “rotator cuff tendinitis.” The next 48 hours will be key in evaluating the setback, but if Peavy misses Thursday’s scheduled start against the Cubs it’s a longshot he’ll be part of the Opening Day roster on April 1.
If Peavy’s 2011 regular season debut is delayed, Plan B will put into action. There is more than one candidate for the fifth starter role. Philip Humber and Tony Pena may be at the top of the list with perhaps Brian Bruney then making the club as the seventh reliever (an educated guess based on his outings this spring).
Another Frustrating Loss: As noted previously in this blog, it’s become commonplace in recent years for the Sox to be mediocre in spring training. It’s been a long time since they’ve even been .500 in Cactus League play.
Today’s 9-7 loss to the Dodgers was an example of the trend. Jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first with RBI hits by Paul Konerko, Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin, the South Siders found themselves down 4-3, then tied it and went ahead 7-4 in the seventh on a solo homer by Quentin and a three-run blast by Gordon Beckham. But the roof fell in in the eighth as L.A. put up a five-spot–including two homers–against reliever Josh Kinney to give the Dodgers a 9-7 triumph.
Ozzie told Hawk and Steve Stone during today’s WGN telecast that no manager has ever gotten a raise for winning spring training games, espousing his philosophy that it’s more important for the players to get work and for the staff to see the kids play. I don’t disagree, but…
The Sox play the Padres tomorrow night in Peoria.
There will undoubtedly will be more to talk about from Camelback Ranch starting tomorrow when the full White Sox squad reports for work.
Today, the last official day of pitchers and catchers (although many position players have reported early), Jake Peavy took an important step toward his recovery and early arrival Alex Rios expressed his confidence in the 2011 Sox.
In Peavy’s case, it was the first time he faced hitters since his right shoulder injury on last
July 6. And it felt good even though he’s only 75 percent. Here’s what he said:
“…Today is a fun day and a big day for you because there’s certainly times when you think you’ll never do what I did today again.”
While Peavy was making progress, centerfielder Alex Rios, coming off a terrific season where he slammed 21 homers, drove in 84 runs and batted .284, sounded pretty confident about his team’s chances.
“We’re the team to beat. We have good additions to the team,” Rios told reporters. “The core is solid, and with the additions, we’re even stronger. I think we’re going to give a hard time to a lot of people out there.”
Let’s hope he’s right.
The early days of spring training, the time before the exhibition games begin, don’t bring a whole lot of news, but we all know that’s not the point. The point is that baseball is back.
So, while pitchers and catchers enter their fourth day of getting back to their summertime routines and only a handful of position players have reported for duty, the news is slim aside from the proclamation that Chris Sale will be in the bullpen. The following will have to do for now:
—Adam Dunn reported to camp early and had to explain to his son why his number has changed from his familiar No. 44 to No. 32. The reason? Peavy is 44.
—Mark Buehrle, two-time Gold Glove winner and the author of the best defensive play of 2010 (on Opening Day), flubbed a few grounders in drills yesterday. In typical Mr. Perfect fashion, he laughed it off.
—Jake Peavy‘s first start of the spring is now scheduled for March 4 in Tempe against the Angels. Considering how important he is to the starting rotation, it’s something we should all keep a close eye on.
–The spring games will determine the makeup of the Sox roster and what the complement will be regarding pitchers and position players. At this point it appears everyone is in agreement that 12 pitchers is preferred, but the fact that a fifth starter won’t be needed until April 10, might mean 11 will go North for Opening Day.
–No surprise here: Ozzie told reporters he goes more on instinct than relying on computer printouts. Duh…
–A couple of ex-Sox notes: Joe Crede decided not to report to Rockies camp and instead opted for free agency…Centerfielder-turned-pitcher Brian Anderson is now a candidate for a spot in the Yankee bullpen. He pitched in the Royals’ minor league system in ’10.
The first day of White Sox spring training brought the following news: Chris Sale will begin the season in the bullpen. Whether or not he’s the closer will be determined later.
Despite the fact that the recovering Jake Peavy might not be ready for Opening Day, resulting in an open spot in the starting rotation, last year’s pitching phenom will join the revamped pen. According to reports, Phil Humber, Lucas Harrell, Jeff Gray, Charlie Leesman and perhaps a wild card or new acquisition will compete for the fifth starter’s job until Peavy is 100 percent.
This definitely seems to be the right move. For the time being, Sale will have much more value in the pen as evidenced by his lights out debut last season. And the hope is that Peavy will return sooner than later, eliminating the need for Sale in the rotation.
Peavy on Day 1 under the watchful eye of Ozzie and KW