By Adam Hoge-
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) – John Danks is officially Robin Ventura’s opening day starter.
After taking most of the spring to make a final decision, Ventura made the announcement after the left-hander pitched seven strong innings against the Dodgers Monday at Camelback Ranch.
“He’s that guy for us,” Ventura said. “He’s the guy we want to lead off with and count on. And he’s willing to take that on so I like when I look in his eyes and see that.”
Danks allowed just two earned runs and five hits while striking out four and walking none Monday as the White Sox lost 4-3 to the Dodgers. After a slow start to the spring, the lefty appears to be on track.
“This is as close as I’ve been to where I want to be when the season starts,” Danks said. “I knew it would come. I wasn’t worried about it.”
Danks said his cutter still isn’t where he wants it to be, but he’s happy with the changeup.
As for why Ventura took so long to make his decision, the rookie manager said he was just being careful.
“I wanted to make sure and see it,” he said. “The last couple (games) with him I’ve seen what I need to see and I feel comfortable and confident in making him the opening day starter.”
Ventura said Jake Peavy will be No. 2 in the rotation with Gavin Floyd third.
After striking out in his first at-bat Monday, Dayan Viciedo’s average dipped below .100 for the spring. The left-fielder bounced back with two opposite field hits, however, and pushed his average back up to .140.
“He’s been frustrated so that’s part of him calming down and reemphasizing to be patient with himself.” Ventura said. “I’m patient with him, but I understand how frustrated he is with trying to prove coming in here with all the hype that he had, that he feels he needs to prove something – and most people do – but when it starts off that way, you still need to calm him down and realize he’s a good hitter and it’s going to happen.”
Morel, Pierzynski Battling For No. 2 Spot
Brent Morel continues to enjoy a good spring and is battling A.J. Pierzynski for the No. 2 spot in the batting order.
The third-baseman went 1-for-4 Monday with an RBI single in the second inning. He’s currently hitting .302 on the spring.
Pierzynski hit a home run in the two-spot Sunday and Ventura said the two are about even right now. He also said the catcher would probably be second in the order the next couple of days, but the lineup posted in the clubhouse for Tuesday had Pierzynski batting seventh and Brent Lillibridge second.