CHICAGO -- When White Sox left-hander Chris Sale presented his return to the rotation case to Ken Williams back in early May, he argued with the same fire and conviction that he takes into each start.
The White Sox general manager responded to the 23-year-old's confidence and bravado, and the team decided that Sale's bullpen hiatus would only last from May 4-12. Since that discussion about the southpaw's normal elbow pain, Sale has posted a 7-1 record and enters the All-Star break with a 10-2 mark, a 2.19 ERA, 98 strikeouts and a .198 opponents' average against over 102 2/3 innings.
And just maybe by going out on a limb with one of his bosses, Sale, who is headed to his first All-Star game, got an extra push toward this elevated level of first-half success.
"Obviously, when you got to fight for something, you are going to want to live up to it and pitch like you said you could," Sale said. "I was just fortunate that it all worked out for me, although I didn't see any of this stuff happening. I'm happy where we are sitting right now."
Sale's last start of the first half came Tuesday in a 19-2 victory over the Rangers, with his Sunday start being skipped and Sale getting a full-fledged chance to pitch in the Midsummer Classic. Both Williams and pitching coach Don Cooper have been talking for a few weeks about the All-Star break being a chance to manage Sale's innings, so this move is more about a look at the full season than simply Sale's first All-Star appearance.
Even without the Sunday start, Sale has stayed on the same program with just a slight tweak to his daily workout. He ranks high up in consideration for American League Cy Young as the first half comes to a close and is on his way toward a 20-win season.
Neither of those accomplishments are weighing on Sale's mind.
"It's going to take a lot to do that," Sale said. "That's something not even on the radar right now. It's cool to talk about and chit-chat about, but I still have a long way to go."
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m. CT.
Danks eager to contribute to winning ballclub
CHICAGO -- White Sox left-hander John Danks has been doing a great deal of pool work during his ongoing rehab for a left shoulder strain. The southpaw believes the pool work could be "a baby step" into throwing.
Danks has not pitched since beating the Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 19, so he's certainly ready to get back on the mound and shift that road to recovery into another gear.
"Hopefully, the sooner the better," Danks said. "I don't know exactly what the plan is, but as soon as I'm ready to do something, we're going to do it. I'm tired of where we're at, so we want to do it as soon as possible."
The pain in Danks' shoulder only is felt when he's throwing, so he believes the injury is improving. Being on the sideline for the last two months of the club's run to top of the American League Central has been more painful for the veteran than the shoulder itself.
"You are here, you are rooting guys on. You are trying to be as helpful as you can," Danks said. "There's still a part of you that doesn't really feel like you are part of it.
"These guys are playing well and it's fun to watch, but I'm nothing more than a cheerleader, I guess. It's not being able to be part of something that looks fun. It's a good thing going on here. So as soon as it's up for it, we are going to push it. We just aren't quite there yet."
TakeJake clips part of club's chemistry
CHICAGO -- The White Sox knew they had a tough fight with Jake Peavy in the American League portion of the 2012 Final Vote competition. It was difficult only because Texas' Yu Darvish, the eventual winner, also was on the ballot and not because Peavy didn't deserve it.
So, in this uphill battle, the White Sox had some creative fun with the TakeJake campaign. The video that stands out a little bit brighter among all of the high-quality productions was second baseman Gordon Beckham's impersonation of Peavy during a mock interview. Beckham had the mannerisms and buzz words down perfectly, in a concept developed by first baseman Paul Konerko.
It was also great entertainment for the entire team.
"Everybody thought it was funny," Beckham said. "The thing about it is that's a caricature of him. It's like when those people draw those little pictures of somebody and they blow it up out of proportion. We were trying to mess around and come up with the ultimate Jake Peavy.
"I can't believe it all came in one take and it just happened to work out. I think he thought it was hilarious and that's the most important thing. In no way, shape or form were we trying to make fun of him. I always do a good impression of Jake, so Paul decided he wanted me to do this. We thought it could help out."
This video also illustrates the camaraderie running throughout this tight-knit clubhouse.
"If there's sensitivity issues there, that probably wouldn't have happened," Beckham said. "Jake knows we were joking.
"Everybody in here could have the same thing done to him. He took it all in stride. It was fun."
Third to first
Thanks to a three-game sweep of the Rangers, the White Sox became the only Major League team not to be swept in a series of three games or more during the 2012 season.
"We are just playing and we are not concerned with setting any records," manager Robin Ventura said. "We are worried more about winning games than we are about not being swept.
"Tomorrow is going to come. Everybody is prepared for it. You do plan for stuff. But when you start looking too far ahead, you lose track of what you are actually doing at the time." Blue Jays manager John Farrell remembers the precision Kevin Youkilis took with every at-bat when Farrell was a pitching coach for the Red Sox from 2006-10.
"That's a guy that's never going to give an at-bat away, a strong competitor," Farrell said. "When he's right offensively, he's got, obviously, extra-base power and the ability to hit good pitching."He's not the vocal leader, yet he leads by example with a hard-nosed type of play. By all accounts and the reports we've had since the trade, he's played with a lot of energy. A change of scenery in this case has injected him with some life." The White Sox claimed left-handed pitcher Daniel Moskos off waivers from the Pirates and optioned him to Triple-A Charlotte. Moskos, 26, had a 1-2 mark with a 3.86 ERA over 14 games for Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He was the fourth pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft and posted a 1-1 record with a 2.96 ERA over 31 appearances with Pittsburgh in 2011.
Dylan Axelrod remains in line to start Sunday's first-half finale on three days' rest. Manager Robin Ventura reiterated Friday that the bullpen will factor prominently into that contest. Philip Humber worked four innings and threw 63 pitches in his second Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte on Friday night. The right-hander allowed two runs on five hits, striking out one and walking two. He also yielded a home run to Norfolk's Lew Ford. Humber has been on the disabled list retroactive to June 17 with a right elbow flexor strain, although he is expected to rejoin the rotation at the start of the second half.
Alex Rios is hitting .457 over his 11-game hitting streak, extended via a fourth-inning single during Friday's 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays.