SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It's impossible to make any judgments about anything through four Cactus League games. But with Brent Morel's healthy back and Conor Gillaspie's two hits and four RBIs in Tuesday's 14-8 victory over the Rangers, the White Sox have some real competition at third base.
"The perception before was that we didn't really have anybody for that spot," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of third base. "But I'm pleased with what we got going right now and how they compete for it."
Gillaspie and Morel will get more innings, as Ventura stated postgame that Jeff Keppinger's sore shoulder will continue to keep him out of action defensively. Gillaspie was happy to get the at-bats after coming over from the Giants and make solid contact.
"At this point in the season, the more you can put the barrel on the ball, regardless of whether you get hits, that's what you have to shoot for the first few weeks of Spring Training," Gillaspie said. "It's pretty tough to even hit the ball at this point."
Lefty Danks nears recovery milestone
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitching in a Cactus League game doesn't always register as a career milestone for a veteran with six years of big league experience, not to mention 57 victories.
For White Sox southpaw John Danks, Monday's start at Camelback Ranch against the Giants quite possibly could be his biggest trip to the mound in the last two years. He took another step in his comeback from Aug. 6 arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder with a two-inning, 50-pitch live batting practice Wednesday morning, facing Trayce Thompson, Conor Gillaspie, Stefan Gartrell and his brother, Jordan.
"There are hitters here, but those are your teammates. You're working on things. They got an idea of what you're trying to do," said Danks after the live BP. "You get in a game, I'm going to try to get you out.
"That will be fun, be fun to see how hitters react to your stuff. It will be kind of a milestone in this process to get back in a game."
Danks threw 25 pitches at one of the back practice fields, stopped for a bit to confer with pitching coach Don Cooper and bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen and then threw another 25 pitches. He focused on his breaking ball, threw cutters and even mixed in a few changeups.
His arm strength has improved since the start of camp, although it's not quite where it needs to be. That fact isn't too different from starters who entered camp healthy.
"I don't know about a number, but it's definitely getting better. So that makes me feel good about things," said Danks of his arm strength. "Also being able to come out and do everything that's asked of me every day. Those are two things that have kept me optimistic about getting into the season.
"We all kind of agree I'm ready to move on and start concentrating on pitching and a little less about my shoulder or whatever. We're pretty confident that's behind us and we can just work to build arm strength and get a little more consistent in my delivery."
A Friday bullpen follows Tuesday's third and final live BP session, before Danks takes the mound on Monday.
"I'm on pace with everyone else, but I got a little ways to go," Danks said. "I just want it to be good enough to throw 120 pitches every five days.
"I've thrown just as many pitches as Jake [Peavy] and Chris [Sale] did the other day. So I'm on the program. They're not doing anything special for me."
White Sox get first look at AJ in Rangers blue
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The in-game media session with A.J. Pierzynski on Tuesday at Surprise Stadium started with the catcher's detailed analysis of Yu Darvish's scoreless pitching performance in the White Sox 14-8 victory. And that topic only seems right, considering Pierzynski is now the Rangers' catcher.
But after about two or three minutes, the conversation moved to Pierzynski facing his former team for the first time. After all, he spent the past eight years on the South Side and was a key member of the 2005 World Series champions. It's a topic both sides clearly have moved past, but with the White Sox going to Texas from April 30-May 2, and then Pierzynski returning to U.S. Cellular Field from Aug. 23-25, it's a topic that will be addressed again.
"Another game, another game. I've said all I need to say about the White Sox," Pierzynski said. "I've talked to the people I needed to talk to over there. I'm happy that it's over and you guys can quit asking me about it.
"Other than that, it's done. There's not very much to say about it. It was a great run we had but it's over and done. Everyone knows how I feel about the people there and the fans, but it's over."
Pierzynski chatted with Dewayne Wise, Gordon Beckham and Alex Rios when each former teammate stepped to the plate in the top of the first. When White Sox manager Robin Ventura was asked if they had a little fun with Pierzynski, Ventura smiled and said Pierzynski was all business.
Ventura added that it was strange to see Pierzynski in the Rangers' blue.
"I'm sure it's strange for him, too, when you put on different colors," Ventura said.
Although Pierzynski has fully embraced his new home with Texas, that change doesn't mean he'll cut off all associations with the most successful and possibly the most enjoyable segment of his career.
"I still have people I communicate with a lot over there. People that will be lifelong friends that I played with," Pierzynski said. "Gordon Beckham, Dwayne Wise, all the guys in the lineup I knew. Facing [Brian] Omogrosso, a guy I caught, said hello to him.
"There are other things besides baseball. I wish them nothing but the best and what happened, happened. There's not a person there I have hard feelings towards."
Molina is looking to bounce back
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Of the six outs recorded by Nestor Molina during Tuesday's 14-8 victory over the Rangers, four were struck fairly solidly and one came on catcher Hector Gimenez's perfect throw to nail Elvis Andrus in his attempt to advance to second on a wild pitch.
But it was still a quality, two-inning start for the right-hander, who almost has to rebuild himself after struggling with top-prospect status in his first year with the White Sox.
"I put a little bit of pressure on myself and for the first time in my career I was injured," said the prospect ranked 10th in the organization by MLB.com, through translator and coach Lino Diaz. "I was trying to do a little bit too much. But this year I've changed that mentality. I'm just coming to get outs and let the rest take care of itself."
Molina finished 6-10 with a 4.26 ERA over 22 games (21 starts) for Double-A Birmingham and 0-1 with a 13.50 in one start for Triple-A Charlotte. As he mentioned, Molina battled elbow soreness after the White Sox acquired the consistent strike thrower in a trade for then-closer Sergio Santos.
Not really knowing what was causing the pain, and then pitching through it, turned out to be the wrong decision for the 24-year-old Venezuelan.
"It was something that just happened, not because of any effort," said Molina, who threw 12 strikes among his 19 pitches. "I feel healthy now, and that's what counts. I haven't changed my mechanics. I'm only trying to throw strikes and concentrate on the things I can control."
Third to first
• Matt Thornton is scheduled to throw a live BP session Wednesday and get back into his regular routine after missing a trip to the mound last week due to triceps soreness.
• The White Sox 61-player Spring Training roster features 22 draftees, 22 players acquired as free agents or through the Rule 5 Draft, 12 acquired via trade and five claimed off waivers.