Opening Day is just nine days away, and because of that the Chicago White Sox are forced make rosters cuts. I mentioned in my last update that outfielder Jordan Danks was making a strong push to make the team, but it was not enough. Following Thursday’s victory against the Milwaukee Brewers, Danks was one of several roster cuts, despite getting 12 hits in his last 19 at-bats. In other news, manager Robin Ventura has stated that Dylan Axelrod will indeed take John Danks’ spot in the rotation to start the season. Axelrod will be the teams’ fifth starter with Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, and Jose Quintana in front of him. Reliever Jesse Crain’s Opening Day status remains up in the air as he is recovering from a right abductor strain. If Crain can’t go, look for righty Brian Omogrosso to fill in until Crain is ready. Omogrosso has been terrific this spring, having not surrendered an earned run in 10.2 innings of work.

Let’s look at some of the notable performances over the last two days.

Thursday, March 21st

Final: Chicago White Sox 8 Milwaukee Brewers 3

The White Sox had a nice day offensively by scoring eight runs on thirteen hits.  Four White Sox regulars recorded two hits on the afternoon as Alejandro De Aza, Jeff Keppinger, Alex Rios, and Adam Dunn got things going as the Sox’ 1-4 hitters. In a bit of a surprise, Robin Ventura has stated that De Aza, Keppinger, Rios, Dunn, and Paul Konerko will be the team’s first five hitters. Konerko has been entrenched as the clean-up man for several years, and I figured that would remain with Rios hitting third and Dunn fifth. Apparently Ventura would like to still utilize Dunn’s high on-base percentage to have more runners on base for Konerko. In addition, Ventura may feel the lineup is better with Konerko providing protection behind Adam Dunn. Lastly, second baseman Gordon Beckham continued his recent hot-streak by hitting a long two-run homer in the 3rd inning.

Opening Day starter Chris Sale took the mound and was outstanding. Sale pitched seven innings, giving up just three runs. In all, Sale allowed only five hitters to reach base, but was hurt on a pair of home runs. Sale struck out three batters and looks as though he is ready to take the ball on April 1st versus the Kansas City Royals. Sale will start one last time against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. He is scheduled to pitch only three innings as a tune-up before the opener. Also, relievers Matt Thornton and Addison Reed each pitched a scoreless inning.

Friday, March 22nd

Final: Chicago White Sox 4 Oakland Athletics 4

The White Sox offense recorded ten hits, but managed only four runs in a tie versus the Oakland Athletics. Alexei Ramirez, Paul Konerko, Tyler Flowers, and Gordon Beckham all had two hits on the night. Konerko was responsible for driving in two of the runs, while Flowers and Beckham each added an RBI. Beckham is coming on strong of late and now has 10 RBIs with a .293 average this spring. The White Sox are hoping Beckham can carry this streak into the regular season and have a breakout year. Look for a story later this weekend regarding my thoughts on Beckham’s chances of doing so this season.

Jose Quintana was the starter on Friday, and the lefty pitched extremely well. Quintana went 5.2 innings and gave up just two runs on two hits and three walks. Quintana struck out nine batters on the night, and that coupled with the three walks resulted in a shorter outing due to a high pitch count. All things considered it was a great performance for Quintana, and he continues to look impressive this spring by now owning a 2.19 ERA. Long reliever Hector Santiago pitched three scoreless innings, giving up only one hit and getting five punch-outs. Santiago will remain in the bullpen and provide a ton of flexibility for the Sox with Axelrod moving into the rotation.

Record: 11-10-3

Up Next: Tonight (Saturday) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers at 9:05pm CT (Jake Peavy vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu). This will be Peavy’s first Cactus League start since he faced the San Diego Padres on March 3rd. However, Peavy has stayed on his throwing schedule by facing minor league hitters in simulated games. This has allowed Peavy to work on certain things while not worrying about facing major league hitters, or the results of each at-bat. It will be interesting to see if he has any rust or problems in this start.

-Eric Tichelbaut

Follow me on Twitter @etichel07