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No easy assignments for White Sox relievers

Chicago White Sox v ToronBlue Jays

Chicago White Sox v Toronto Blue Jays

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The facts: 6:07 p.m., CSN+,
670-AM, 97.5-FM.

The pitchers: Jose Quintana (0-0, 4.09 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (2-0, 3.48).

Updated: April 17, 2013 12:21AM

TORONTO — Having 12 of their first 13 games decided by three or fewer runs says there are few cake assignments for White Sox relievers, who have been quick studies in getting accustomed to pitching in tight, stressful situations. That figured in the decision to expand the pitching staff to 13 when Gordon Beckham went on the disabled list last week.

“I don’t want those guys to feel overtaxed because they’re always coming in,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “There are no easy innings the way we play, so when they come in, it’s all-out all the time. With a five-run lead, you can pitch a little different and make [opposing hitters] get outs, but the way we play, it’s maximum all the time.

“This is the kind of baseball we play. They’re used to close games. That isn’t an issue for them.’’

The bullpen has been up to the task. Through Monday, the Sox’ pen ranked second in the American League with a 1.79 ERA and a .182 batting average against.

Walk this way

The Sox walked 18 times through Monday, which ranked last in the majors. Ventura attributed that possibly to the team pressing.

“You’re just trying to do more because we haven’t gotten the right hit here and there,’’ he said.

“It’s something that needs to happen, too. It’s hard to say, ‘Hey, we want you to go up there and walk,’ but, again, in the course of baseball, it’s important for teams to walk and grind out at-bats.’’

Health watch

John Danks threw 71 pitches in six innings in an extended spring training game Monday. Danks’ velocity isn’t major-league-ready yet, but it has improved since spring training, Ventura said.

“I think that’s been getting better, and I think that makes him pitch better,’’ Ventura said. “That’s why there are positive reports — he’s feeling stronger, and it’s coming out of his hand a little better.’’

Danks will return to Chicago to be with the club at some point during the upcoming homestand. He’ll make at least one more extended spring start before going on a minor-league rehab venture.

“He’s getting there,’’ Ventura said.

◆ Beckham had surgery Tuesday in Cleveland to repair the hook of the hamate fracture in his left wrist. He’ll miss six weeks.

◆ Pitching coach Don Cooper (diverticulitis) will rejoin the team Friday, when it opens a three-game series against the Twins.

Buehrle postscript

If Mark Buehrle felt weird pitching against the Sox on Monday night, just wait till he possibly faces his former team June 10-12, when the Blue Jays come to Chicago.

“It’s going to feel the most weird when we go back to Chicago,’’ Buehrle said Tuesday, a day after he beat the Sox for his first win as a Jay. “Walking into that stadium for 12 years, walking into the same spot, and now I have to walk past that door to the other side.’’

Buehrle said he’s over the shock of getting traded from Miami to Toronto in November.

“This organization is top from the way they treat people to the way they do stuff here,’’ he said. “It’s a classy organization, so that part of it has been awesome.”

Roster watch

The Sox sent right-hander Deunte Heath to Class AAA Charlotte and called up outfielder Jordan Danks.

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