CHICAGO -- For a brief moment in the eighth inning of Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Twins, third baseman Conor Gillaspie saved the game.
With the bases loaded and one out, he dove toward the line to snare Wilkin Ramirez's pinch-hit grounder and then threw home from his knees for the force at the plate. Gillaspie came to the White Sox known more as a hitter than a strong defensive player, but has benefited from Spring Training work with third-base coach Joe McEwing and from the regular chance to play in the wake of Gordon Beckham's left wrist injury.
"Once you get an opportunity to play, I think your confidence grows," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Gillaspie, who was back at third Sunday. "And for him, I think that's been happening. I think more defensively. Offensively, we knew he could swing it. He had a pretty good spring swinging the bat.
"His thing is he's always willing to do whatever. I think if we asked him to catch, he'd probably do that, too."
Danks hopes to head out on rehab assignment soon
CHICAGO -- John Danks made an appearance in Chicago on Sunday, after throwing six innings during an extended spring start Saturday in Arizona.
The left-hander continues his rehab process from Aug. 6 arthroscopic season-ending shoulder surgery, with a focus on increased velocity, arm strength and better pitchability. His rehab work could take another big step forward Monday, when Danks meets with general manager Rick Hahn and White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider, among others, to discuss his situation.
Danks hopes that the group decision is to send him out on a Minor League stint, where he can get closer to game action and closer to a return to the White Sox.
"I'm ready to go throw somewhere, and I'll tell them that tomorrow," an upbeat Danks said prior to Sunday's contest with the Twins. "I've done everything I can do in Arizona, and I'm ready to get into a real game atmosphere.
"I don't want to be back until I know I can help the team. It'd be selfish of me to go out there just because I'm physically able to do it. I don't feel like I'm real far off, but it's not my decision to make."
Hahn talked Saturday about the Danks' reports being positive, with the left-hander not only climbing velocity-wise, but also being able to throw all of his bullpen sessions and do all of his exercises between starts. Danks supported that assessment Sunday, describing a noticeable difference from this visit to Chicago in comparison to how he felt back when he was with the team on Opening Day.
"In Spring Training, I was able to play catch and do what you kind of have to do, but it didn't feel great playing catch," Danks said. "The last few starts, it's felt great between starts. I think that's a good sign.
"Everything's on an upswing right now. It's been a lot of peaks and valleys."
Getting his velocity consistently to the 88-91 mph range stands as a target for Danks, needing that speed differential between his fastball and changeup, as an example. Most of all, though, Danks has to be completely healthy and be able to make his pitches to get back to the big leagues as soon as he possibly can.
"We were being real aggressive with the start of the season and trying to be back, and mostly that was my doing. I don't like sitting out," Danks said. "I'm not caught off guard. We watched Jake [Peavy] go through this a couple years ago where he looked like he'd be ready and needed a little extra time, and things have worked out pretty good for him.
"[Pitching coach Don Cooper] and I have talked. There was a time where I was able just to rare back and try my luck. I'm going to have to learn how to pitch now. Hopefully, everything will come back and I'll have the same arm strength and I'll be able to pitch with some good stuff."
Despite slow start, Manto confident in offense, Dunn
CHICAGO -- White Sox fans who watched the team's offense struggle through the first 17 games, ranking 10th or below in the American League in slugging percentage, average, runs scored, runs per game, average with runners in scoring percentage and on-base percentage, might roll their eyes when reading the following prediction from Jeff Manto.
But the team's hitting coach has not changed his thoughts concerning this group becoming a dynamic unit in the not-too-distant future.
"We know this team is one swing away from getting real hot. So nobody is in a panic mode," Manto said. "It's going to happen shortly.
"There's no doubt at all. It's just a matter of keeping these guys above water, stay positive and go from there. They have proven track records. I don't anticipate these numbers staying the same. It's going to be fine."
Hitting throughout the consistent cold of April in Chicago or the Midwest, for that matter, has played a role in the team's slow start with the bats. Of course, other teams have played in the same weather and Manto certainly isn't looking for excuses.
He readily admits that Adam Dunn's 7-for-65 start to the season qualifies as "a little slump," even with the small sample size. Manto also believes Dunn can contribute more than hitting homers for the White Sox.
"Early on, his balance was a little off. But now he's corrected his bottom half," said Manto. "We saw better swings in Toronto and [Saturday]. We anticipate some more good swings.
"With these big hitters, you gotta be patient with them. They need at-bats. He's one swing or one at-bat away from getting hot. Once he gets hot, we all know what he can do. And he's athletic enough in the batter's box to hit. I don't think last year average-wise you saw the best of Adam. The home runs and RBIs were about where they anticipated. He's a good hitter on top of being a power guy."
Dunn broke an 0-for-31 stretch with a solo homer in the seventh inning of Sunday's 5-3 loss against the Twins.
Konerko wants everyone 'to keep grinding'
CHICAGO -- The 7-11 White Sox start to the 2013 season might be characterized as underachieving or with a cup half-empty sort of view. White Sox captain Paul Konerko doesn't share that viewpoint.
"There's a lot of ways to look at it, depending on what you want to see," Konerko said before Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Twins. "For me, that last road trip we just came off of, whatever we were, 3-7, it could have been a lot worse than that. And I thought the first homestand, the same thing.
"We have scraped together some wins not having it. So you don't know. Later in the year when you do get it going, you look back and you say, 'It's not the hot times, it's when you were cold when you scraped those ones that make a difference.'"
Konerko admits that at some point, "you'd like to get it going collectively."
"But the work's there, the approach is there. Everybody's grinding along," Konerko said. "Everything's in the right place. It just hasn't happened yet. We just have to keep grinding."
Third to first
• One year ago, Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in Major League history, striking out nine in a 4-0 victory at Seattle. Humber joined Mark Buehrle and Charles Robertson as White Sox pitchers to reach perfection, leaving the White Sox and Yankees as the only teams with three perfect games. On Saturday, Humber, pitching for the Astros, gave up eight runs in one-third of an inning against the Indians.
• Alejandro De Aza's five career leadoff homers tie him with Pat Kelly for third all-time in franchise history. Ray Durham (20) and Tim Raines (nine) sit at one and two.
• The White Sox bullpen leads the American League with a 1.63 ERA and .177 opponents' average against.
• Mike Squires and Jerry Dybzinski, members of the 1983 AL West champions, threw out ceremonial first pitches Sunday.