The Chicago White Sox suffered defeats in both of their contests during the last two days. Besides the outcomes, the White Sox may have also lost a key member of their rotation to start the season. After Wednesday’s game, manager Robin Ventura stated that barring any drastic improvements, starter John Danks will likely begin the season on the disabled list. Danks, who is rehabbing from left shoulder surgery, was hit very hard on Tuesday and has struggled mightily this spring. Despite the results, Danks insists that he is healthy and that he is still trying to build up velocity and arm strength. With Opening Day less than two weeks away, the White Sox would have liked to have seen better results before letting Danks pitch in a regular season game. In any event, being placed on the disabled list wouldn’t be a huge setback for Danks. By starting the season on the 15-day DL, Danks will have five more starts to build up his arm strength, velocity, and get a better feel for all his pitches. Danks relies heavily on changing speeds and deceiving hitters with the difference in speed between his fastball and changeup. If Danks’ fastball is a few ticks below his normal range, then his changeup will not fool major league hitters. Hopefully this is just a small bump in the road to recovery, and that Danks can rejoin the starting rotation in mid-April when he is closer to being at full strength.

Tuesday, March 19th

Final: Cincinnati Reds 10 Chicago White Sox 6

Despite the loss, the White Sox offense provided a few bright spots. Adam Dunn was responsible for the bulk of the Sox runs by recording four RBIs on a 2-for-3 effort. The big blow was a 3-run bomb off of Reds’ starter Homer Bailey. Gordon Beckham showed a little power of his own, by hitting a solo homer off Bailey in the 3rd inning. Dayan Viciedo added an RBI triple to account for the other Sox run, and Tyler Flowers tallied his fourth double of the spring. Perhaps the best news of the day was Jeff Keppinger returning to the lineup after leaving the team for personal reasons over the weekend. Keppinger has been recovering from a shoulder injury as well, and seems to be getting healthier as he started at third base for the first time in over a week. Keppinger had previously appeared in the lineup as a DH because swinging a bat doesn’t bother his right shoulder like throwing a baseball does. Keppinger reached base all four times he came to the plate and finished 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two walks.

As previously mentioned, John Danks was on the hill for the Sox. Danks was hit very hard, surrendering 10 earned runs on 11 hits (2 home runs) and two walks. Danks didn’t strike a batter out during his 3.1 innings of working which suggests he simply doesn’t have his best stuff yet. Matt Lindstrom, Matt Thornton, and Addison Reed combined to throw three scoreless innings. The White Sox would certainly love to see that as often as possible with those three pitchers figuring to be trusted with securing leads in close ballgames.

Wednesday, March 20th

Final: Arizona Diamondbacks 4 Chicago White Sox 2

The White Sox offense was fairly quiet on Wednesday. However, Gordon Beckham, Jeff Keppinger, and Jordan Danks had nice afternoons. Beckham finished the day 3-for-4 with a run scored and has raised his average to .275. Coming off of a home run the previous day, the White Sox would gladly take that type of production from Beckham over the course of the regular season with the kind of defense he provides. Jeff Keppinger continued his hot streak by going 2-for-2 and reaching base all three times. If you are doing the math at home, Keppinger has reached base in seven straight plate appearances over the last two games. His average now sits at .500 (14-28) on the spring. Jordan Danks is also on a hot streak of his own. Danks went 2-for-3 on the day with a solo homer off of Brandon McCarthy. Danks now has hits in 12 of his last 17 at-bats, and is hitting .371 on the spring. With this late surge, Danks is making a serious push to crack the Opening Day roster as a reserve outfielder.

The White Sox sent Gavin Floyd to the mound versus the Diamondbacks. Floyd recorded his second straight positive performance by pitching five innings of two-run ball. Floyd allowed seven hits, but only walked one and struck out five. Floyd’s spring ERA now sits a 4.61 and it looks as though he is ready to begin the regular season. Dylan Axelrod followed Floyd by pitching three innings in relief, giving up two runs on four hits and struck out three batters. Robin Ventura mentioned Axelrod to be a possible replacement to begin the season in the starting rotation for John Danks. Axelrod’s versatility to be a swing-man for the pitching staff may already prove to be a valuable asset for the White Sox before the season begins.

Record: 10-10-2

Up Next: Thursday vs. Milwaukee Brewers at 3:05pm CT (Chris Sale vs. Mike Fiers). This will be Sale’s second to last start this spring before taking the mound on Opening Day.

-Eric Tichelbaut

Follow me on Twitter @etichel07