CHICAGO -- A Wednesday meeting with White Sox team physician Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph has left-hander John Danks optimistic about starting to play catch on the first of November.
"That was music to my ears," said a smiling Danks, who is ahead of schedule in his recovery from successful arthroscopic shoulder surgery on Aug. 6. "I feel if I can start throwing the first of November, that should give me enough time to be ready for spring and we'll go from there."
In his ongoing rehab, Danks has noticed a major improvement in just his range of motion. That's an encouraging feeling for Danks, who was frustrated by the lack of progress with the injury, which popped up the day after his last start on May 19 at Wrigley Field.
"This is the most upbeat I've been in a while because I'm seeing every day, every other day, every third day, some kind of improvement," Danks said. "I'm getting a little more each time out.
"It's good for me because I'm an impatient person. I need to see results. That's why it was so tough before surgery because I felt I was running in place. For me to see results and improvements has been huge."
That Nov. 1 date will be circled on Danks' calendar if all continues to go well. And he's looking forward to throwing again, more than being fearful of letting it go a little bit for the first time since surgery.
"I haven't thrown in a while and obviously anything can happen between now and then," Danks said. "I have cautious optimism would be the best way of looking at it.
"Even though I'm healthy, the first time I pick up a ball in the offseason, I know it's not going to feel great. I'll probably have to go through some stuff, probably early on.
"Once I get going, I'll have a better idea if what I'm feeling is good or I need to push it, back off, whatnot," Danks said. "In terms of the surgery, everything is healed. We're at the point that we can push it as far as we can tolerate it."
Dunn enjoying 2012 'a little bit more than most'
CHICAGO -- Back in March, sitting in front of a small locker at Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., and sporting a full beard, Adam Dunn made one promise for the 2012 season.
The fun that was missing with baseball in 2011 for him, the fun that was always there in his power-packed career, would return. Six months later, Dunn told MLB.com on Thursday that particular mission has been accomplished and it has nothing to do with his rejuvenation at the plate.
"It has been what baseball was supposed to be for me. I look forward to coming [to the ballpark] every single day," said Dunn, who played first base in the opener of a four-game set against the Rays. "I really have enjoyed this year, like I have in the past. This one maybe a little bit more than most.
"Just everything, just little bitty things in baseball that really irritate me and I'm not letting them, I'm not buying into all that. I'm not letting people get me down. I just want to come every day and have fun. Whatever happens is going to happen anyway. I might as well have fun doing it."
Dunn already has gone on record saying how he felt bad for the entire 2011 White Sox staff that gave him every chance to succeed but suffered along with him in his disastrous South Side debut. Former manager Ozzie Guillen also has praised the designated hitter for handling the season-long troubles like a professional but also being accountable for the on-field results.
Nonetheless, having a new staff gave Dunn a new baseball lease with individuals who didn't know about 2011 or care to revisit it.
"Obviously, everybody knows about last year, but the whole coaching staff wasn't here to see it," said Dunn, who has bounced back to hit 41 homers, drive in 94 and serve as one of the team's clubhouse leaders. "They heard about it, but there's a difference between living it every day with you and hearing about it. I felt like I had a clean slate with them starting from Day 1.
"I was going to have fun and I knew if I had fun, things would hopefully be there. If not, this game is long and hard enough to not have fun doing it. It's a lot easier to do it when your team is playing well and things like that. I feel like if I'm loose and having fun, it keeps everybody else loose and having fun. I think it's when you play your best."
White Sox not giving up on making final run
CHICAGO -- It was hard for White Sox players to miss the conclusion of Detroit's 5-4 walk-off victory over the Royals on Thursday afternoon, completing a four-game sweep at Comerica Park. But even at two games back, the White Sox still are more concerned about themselves than the Tigers.
They are hoping for one more run, following their dismal 1-8 drought, to propel them back into postseason contention.
"I hope so. I think we do. We believe we do," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said before Thursday's 3-2 loss. "Otherwise, there's no point in playing the games. We've put ourselves in this position by playing good baseball and putting the day before behind us."
"You never quit. You never give up and even when you are eliminated, you keep on playing the game hard," White Sox reliever Matt Thornton said. "You play the game the right way. That should be everyone's makeup, you never give in. But obviously we're down a game and a half. We have to go out and win as many as you can because that's all we can worry about is winning ballgames."
Third to first
After catching 126 strikes out of 217 total pitches thrown during the nine-inning loss on Wednesday, A.J. Pierzynski was back behind the plate for Thursday's series opener against the Rays.
Pierzynski has reached 1,000 innings caught for the 11th straight season, extending the longest active streak in baseball, while producing a career-high 27 homers and sitting one RBI short of matching a career high of 77. Through all the work, the 35-year-old and free-agent-to-be continues to feel strong.
"I feel great, physically," said Pierzynski, who is tied for fifth in the Majors with 123 games caught. "For catching as many games as I catch and as many years as I've been doing it, I feel as good as I can possibly feel. Hopefully, there's an extra month in there that wears me out." White Sox television play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson missed Thursday's contest with flu-like symptoms. Mike Huff replaced Harrelson in the broadcast booth.
Robin Ventura said a White Sox starting pitcher for Sunday's home finale has not yet been determined by the staff. Francisco Liriano and Jose Quintana are both options. The White Sox also have not set their three-man rotation for the regular season's final series in Cleveland.
The White Sox began their celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Thursday night with a pregame ceremony, during which Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and the Secretary's Hispanic Liaison Ernesto Martinez presented Alex Rios with a distinct recognition as part of the month's activities. Rios, a resident and native of Puerto Rico who played for Puerto Rico in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic, is in his third year with the White Sox. Jake Peavy has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 13 of his 15 home starts this season. The White Sox are hitting .123 (9-for-73) with runners in scoring position and have left 68 runners on base in their last 10 games.