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Sox still have high hopes for left-hander John Danks

John Danks Tyler Flowers

John Danks, Tyler Flowers

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Updated: April 27, 2013 6:21AM



GLENDALE, Ariz. — The
payoff on left-hander John Danks’ $65 million contract will have to wait. With that kind of money invested, the White Sox hope it won’t take too long.

As of now, Danks hasn’t done much to earn the big bucks. After signing a five-year deal in December 2011, he was good for only 532/3 innings last season before breaking down in May and having shoulder surgery in August.

‘‘There is always risk involved,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said of signing pitchers to long-term deals. ‘‘Do you risk [injury and] wind up with money that’s not useful on your active roster? The other extreme is, do you go year-to-year and run the risk that the player’s career plays out like you think it will? In that case, he becomes too expensive for you to afford and keep around.

‘‘Fifteen months ago when we signed that contract, we were looking at a good, young, left-handed, front-of-the-rotation guy entering the prime of his career. Do you want to bear the risk that he continues on that trajectory and walks out the door in a year when he enters free agency?

‘‘Obviously, the contract hasn’t played out like we hoped. But there are still four seasons to play in this with a real chance for him to return to form and make it worthwhile. It’s not over just because it hasn’t started the way we and John had hoped.’’

The Sox are encouraged Danks is feeling good and is competing.

‘‘Those are real milestones he’s passed,’’ Hahn said.

Danks, who was dropped down last week to pitching in minor-league games, will stay in extended spring training when the rest of the team heads north Wednesday. When he begins to feel more like himself and when his velocity climbs above the upper-80s range his fastball is at now, he’ll go to Class AAA Charlotte for a minor-league rehab assignment.

‘‘There are milestones he needs to pass, but there is no specific timeline or when those are going to happen,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘It could be a few weeks, but it could be longer. It’s a tricky thing of health, mechanics and results, so you can’t put a timeline on it.’’

Angel in the infield

Angel Sanchez, a Rule 5 pick who made the team as the utility infielder, liked his chances from the get-go.

‘‘They bring you here for a reason: They want you to be on the team,’’ said Salazar, a 29-year-old who has played in 184 major-league games, all but one with the Houston Astros. ‘‘I felt good about this, getting picked on the Rule 5, but you still have to show them you can play the game the right way.’’

Sanchez said he fits into the Sox’ clubhouse.

‘‘Oh, yeah, I feel great here,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s like a family here. Everybody sticks together.’’

Sanchez spent all of last season at Class AAA Oklahoma City, where he batted .320. He is batting .281 (11-for-32) this spring and has committed three errors.

‘‘I can play better,’’ he said.

Tough to beat

Slugger Adam Dunn is long overdue for a haircut, and he knows it. He just can’t bring himself to get off the couch in his free time, especially while the NCAA tournament is going on.

‘‘The couch is undefeated,’’ he said.



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