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White Sox righty Dylan Axelrod makes strong case to remain in rotation

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals

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The facts: 1:10 p.m., CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.

The starters: Jose Quintana (2-0, 3.58 ERA) vs. Wade Davis (2-2, 5.55).

Updated: June 6, 2013 7:25AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dylan Axelrod is going to make it tough on the White Sox’ brain trust when John Danks comes back.

The soft-spoken, mild-mannered right-hander was a bulldog on the mound again, allowing two runs over 72/3 strong innings against a good-hitting Kansas City Royals lineup. It was Axelrod’s fourth consecutive quality start, and it left him winless at 0-2 only because his opponent was even better.

“Axelrod was good, and [Jeremy] Guthrie was better,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.

Ventura said before the game that when Danks returns, his rotation could feature four lefties. If Jake Peavy is in the rotation, that would leave Axelrod — whom Ventura thinks highly of — back in the bullpen barring a trade.

Axelrod, who owns a solid 3.60 ERA, doesn’t want to leave the rotation.

“No, I don’t,’’ he said after pitching into the eighth inning for the first time. “It’s what I want, to be a starting pitcher in the major leagues. Like I said, go out there every fifth day, have a quality start, and there’s nothing more I can do.’’

Axelrod seems to have a lower ceiling than lefty Hector Santiago because Santiago has more electric stuff. Axelrod is a study in “knowing how to pitch.’’

“I wouldn’t say that about myself,’’ he said. “But I have a plan every time I go out there. If that’s knowing how to pitch, there it is. My gut is good, I have good instincts out there and just trust myself.’’

Lots of lefties

Ventura said he wouldn’t be opposed to having four lefties in his rotation when Danks rejoins the team, probably after two or three more minor-league rehab starts.

“If they’re good,’’ said Ventura, who could have Danks, Santiago, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana in his rotation with righty Peavy. “That’s where we’re at. Once you lose a guy like [right-hander] Gavin [Floyd], you’re going to take a major-league arm whether they’re right-handed or left-handed. Ideally, you’d like to have it split up one way or another, but we’re at a point where we just need the best guys.’’

The Sox are banking on Danks being one of those guys.

“We’ll be looking forward to having him,’’ Ventura said.

Four lefties is a lot, but it’s not unprecedented. Injuries forced the Oakland Athletics to use five lefties in their rotation for a stretch during 2008: Greg Smith, Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez, Dana Eveland and Dan Meyer.

This and that

Dayan Viciedo (left oblique strain) took swings during batting practice. “There’s a chance in the next few days that he would be going out to a [minor-league] rehab assignment,’’ Ventura said.

Jeff Keppinger’s career average of 15.64 plate appearances per strikeout was the best among active American League players going into the season. His strikeout in the first inning Saturday night put him at eight plate appearances per K this season — with no walks.

◆ The Mets’ rainout changed the pitching matchups for the Sox’ two-game interleague series in New York. Matt Harvey will oppose Sale, and Jeremy Hefner goes against Santiago.

◆ The Sox announced makeup dates for their home rainouts, setting up Friday doubleheaders with the Cleveland Indians on June 28 at 4:10 p.m. and the Minnesota Twins on Aug. 9 at 1:10 and 7:10. The Tribe twi-nighter is two games for the price of one.

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