CHICAGO -- Hector Santiago's screwball, an effective offering which helped him earn the White Sox closer job out of Spring Training, is not exactly where he wants it to be, as Rajai Davis' two-run, ninth-inning homer off the pitch on Wednesday would indicate. But in Santiago's opinion, the screwball is getting closer to being a significant on-mound weapon again.
"I still got it," said Santiago, who threw seven screwballs in Wednesday's one-inning stint, according to MLB.com Gameday. "It's more comfortable in my hand. The ball is getting a little bit smaller.
"At the beginning, it felt big in the hand, so I kept like losing it. Now, it actually feels a lot better. I've been throwing it really well in the game. I'm throwing it for a strike and not bouncing it 20 feet in front of home plate anymore."
Six of Santiago's screwballs went for strikes against the Blue Jays.
Jordan Danks joins brother John on White Sox
CHICAGO -- The American League Central-leading White Sox are playing host to a Danks family reunion.
With Kosuke Fukudome placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Thursday's game (retroactive to June 4) due to a strained right oblique, Jordan Danks' contract was purchased from Triple-A Charlotte. The player considered the best defensive outfielder in the organization joins his older brother, John, in their first regular-season stint together.
Jordan, 25, was selected in the seventh round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and has worked tirelessly to help bring his skills with the bat near his high level of skills with the glove. John, 27, is in his sixth season as part of the White Sox rotation, and signed a five-year, $65 million extension in December.
Their parents will be arriving in Chicago on Friday to fill out this family portrait, and John hopes this stint for his brother lasts longer than an injury-replacement situation.
"Heck, yeah. Shoot -- this has been kind of a hope of ours for a long time now," said John of becoming the fourth pair of brothers to play for the White Sox, news he knew about even before Jordan was informed by Charlotte manager Joel Skinner on Wednesday. "Hopefully he plays well and makes it a tough decision on some people. He understands he's here due to injury. There's not much he can do other than go out there and try to help us win ballgames."
"It's so funny, because we've been doing the same interviews for the last three years," said Jordan, who appeared as a pinch-runner in Thursday's 4-3 White Sox victory over the Blue Jays. "We're always saying, 'Take one of the interviews we did three years ago.' But now it's kind of for real, so it feels good."
While John prepares to join Charlotte for what he hopes is a one-game Minor League injury rehab start on Tuesday in Columbus, Jordan earned his way to the Majors with a .302 average, 15 doubles, eight homers and 28 RBIs for the Knights this season. The improvement on offense has come through a combination of working on areas stressed by White Sox coaches and doing what feels comfortable and natural for him swing-wise.
As for those who believe Jordan gets big league opportunities because of his brother's standing on the team, John disagrees.
"I've heard it before," said John, who worked out with his brother during the offseason and saw his thorough preparation. "He's getting all these shots just because he's my brother and what not. Those are people who haven't seen him play. He can play. There's a reason why he's here."
"There are times you're hitting great and you're like, 'Oh wow, this is easy,'" Jordan said. "And then all of the sudden a light turns off and you're like, 'What happened?' Stuff runs through your head a lot, but I had no doubt this day would come eventually."
Konerko returns after procedure on wrist
CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko missed two games when he underwent a procedure last June to flush a loose bone fragment in his left wrist into a less painful spot. That fragment didn't bother him the rest of the 2011 campaign.
Konerko also missed two games when he had the same procedure done on Tuesday. Now, Konerko hopes to have the same pain-free results as 2011, before he undergoes offseason surgery to completely remove the chip. He knocked out two hits in his return during Thursday's 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays.
"It's never entered into the joint playing baseball," Konerko said. "It's always away from the field, like something simple like grabbing something off a table or opening a door.
"I cross my fingers with it. It was my fault, more so, that I didn't get it out last offseason. I wanted to, but I figured it hasn't been in there for four to five months so it's gone, it's not coming back, so we didn't do it. It happened again, so I don't think I'm going to get out of it this time."
That surgical process could have Konerko out for anywhere from three to eight weeks, so it's not something he can do during the season. For now, he's back hitting fourth with his Major League-best .371 average and trying to jump-start a White Sox offense that cooled down quickly against Toronto starters Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow.
"When you've got a guy who does what he does at the plate, it extends innings," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Konerko. "It makes people pitch differently -- especially the way he's been swinging prior to him having the wrist thing. It's a big boost for us to get him back and get him in the middle of the lineup."
"One of the best hitters in the American League," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell of the White Sox captain. "It creates a void when your middle-of-the-order bat isn't in there. He might be quietly putting up a Hall of Fame career. If he's maybe -- and this is not to take anything away from Chicago or anything -- but this is, in my mind, a prolific hitter that might not garner the attention of other guys around the game."
Facing Astros brings back good memories
CHICAGO -- This weekend's Interleague visit from the Astros marks the third regular-season series between the two teams since the 2005 World Series, with all three of those series taking place in Chicago.
Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski are the only two remaining White Sox players from the 2005 World Series champions, while Friday's starter Wandy Rodriguez is the only holdover from the '05 Astros.
Any game with the Astros brings back memories, but it was the two games played in Houston at the end of this past Spring Training that really stirred up the White Sox World Series feelings.
"That was where we won," said Pierzynski of completing the four-game sweep in Houston. "You know, there are always memories whenever you see them."
Third to first
Outfielder Jared Mitchell, left-handers Pedro Hernandez and Jose Quintana, and catcher Damaso Espino will represent Double-A Birmingham on the North Division roster at the 2012 Southern League All-Star Game. Quintana currently is part of the White Sox rotation, while Mitchell, the team's top pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, is hitting .290 with a league-leading nine triples and .418 on-base percentage.
Brent Morel is hitting .267 (8-for-30) over eight games on his Minor League injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte. Morel is on the disabled list with a lumbar back strain, and was pinch-hit for after just one at-bat in Charlotte's victory Thursday at Toledo.
Terry Doyle came within three outs of no-hitting Toledo on Thursday. But the Charlotte hurler lost the no-hitter when he gave up a leadoff double in the ninth inning.
The White Sox improved to 24-9 when scoring first after doing so in Thursday's 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays.