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With John Danks on DL, White Sox’ Dylan Axelrod could take fifth start vs. Mariners

Dylan Axelrod

Dylan Axelrod

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Updated: April 22, 2013 12:18PM



GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dylan Axelrod has prepared all spring for the possibility of being a fifth starter in the White Sox’ rotation.

That possibility looked more like a reality when the Sox decided to move John Danks to minor-league games and have him start the season on the disabled list.

Axelrod pitched three innings in relief Wednesday.

While not ruling out left-hander Hector Santiago, manager Robin Ventura said he’s leaning toward Axelrod to take the fifth start April 6 against the Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field. Axelrod, who made seven starts last season, said he’ll be ready when called.

“Absolutely. I come in every day committed to being ready and improving,” said Axelrod, who has thrown extra pitches in the bullpen after his relief appearances. “I’ve been getting my pitch count up, so physically I’m ready and very excited if that turns out the way it is, and I’m ready to get after it.”

Axelrod made strong starts in Baltimore, New York and Boston last season. A start at home against Toronto on three days’ rest had much to do with a season-ending 5.47 ERA the Sox believe is somewhat deceptive. He gave up seven runs, not enough to shake his confidence.

“Last year was real big for my confidence,’’ Axelrod said, “just getting a sense of belonging. The experience of being in big spots like you belong here and you can contribute.’’

If Santiago gets early-season starts, Axelrod could fill the long-relief role.

Axelrod gave up two runs and four hits with three strikeouts and no walks. His ERA this spring is 3.21.

“I guess I’m seen as a versatile guy because I’ve done it,’’ he said. “I’ve been a long reliever in the minor leagues; I’ve been a reliever in college; I’ve been a starter.

“It’s all about doing what I can to help the White Sox. In any capacity they see fit for me to be part of the team, I’m happy to do it.’’

Santiago, who was 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA over 191/3 innings in four starts last season, is also preparing himself for anything.

“They just kind of said, ‘Hey, keep your pitch count up, and we’ll try to get you 50 or 60 pitches and get you out there for three innings,’ ’’ he said. “Whether you’re throwing 60 pitches in the pen or three innings in the game, they’re going to try to keep me stretched out.’’

Danks was sore Wednesday, but he said that was normal. His pride was hurt more than anything. But he understands what’s best for the Sox and for him.

“Yeah, it’s not about me, I guess,’’ he said. “It’s a team game. We’re here to win ballgames no matter who’s doing that. I would like to be there but certainly would understand if they wanted me to wait a little bit and someone else was throwing a little better for April or whatever it is.’’

Having had surgery in August, it’s not a surprise Danks isn’t ready yet.

“He’s going out there without the velocity he needs to do what he does,’’ Ventura said. “I don’t want to keep sending him out there with one arm tied behind his back. Until he can get that back, feels he can go out there and do that, this is what’s best.”

D-BACKS 4, WHITE SOX 2

FOR THE RECORD: Ryan Court’s two-run single against Dylan Axelrod broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth as the Sox (10-10-3) fell to .500 for the first time this spring. After the game, manager Robin Ventura said Axelrod likely will begin the season in the starting rotation. Starter Gavin Floyd gave up two runs in five innings, finishing with three scoreless frames.

staying hot: Jordan Danks went 2-for-3 with a homer, raising his average to .312 after a bad start. Danks, who likely will start the season at Class AAA, has 12 hits in his last 17 at-bats. Jeff Keppinger (2-for-2) is 14-for-28.

wise move: Dewayne Wise proved to be a valuable pickup by Ken Williams last season. Re-signed by new GM Rick Hahn in the offseason, the 35-year-old crashed into the right-field wall in making a nice catch in the top of the first, then led off the bottom of the inning with a bunt single. Wise, who extended his hitting streak to nine games, also moved Gordon Beckham from second to third with a fly to right (Beckham scored on Alexei Ramirez’s ground out). With Alex Rios and Alejandro De Aza missing time to play in the World Baseball Classic, Wise (.286 average) has three homers and a triple in 42 at-bats.

dunn gets look in left: Adam Dunn played left field, a spot he could play in interleague games. The Sox play in Washington against the Nationals on April 9. Dunn threw out catcher Rod Barajas, trying to score from second on a single, at home. “No offense to Rod, but he’s not Michael Johnson or anything,’’ Dunn said.

on deck: Chris Sale is matched up against Mike Fliers as the Sox host the Brewers at 3:05 Thursday.



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