By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) While older brother John has had most of the attention in White Sox spring training, Jordan Danks has been quietly making his presence felt.
Danks drilled a two-run homer in Monday’s game, which was partially the result of a renewed confidence for the team’s best defensive outfielder.
In this case, playing in the shadow of a more high-profile brother has been a plus for Danks. The road to the big leagues hasn’t been a simple one for the Texas native. He still remembers the pain of hitting a game-wining home run for the White Sox and then getting sent back to the minors that evening.
“It is all how you react to things,” Danks said. “A lot of guys would have sulked about it. That wasn’t what I allowed myself to do. Don’t get me wrong, that one hurt, but it gave me more resolve to get back and stay.”
Danks played in 79 games for the Sox last season and 54 games in the minors. A nine-game hitting streak last August was a sign that he had arrived as a big league player.
The streak was preceded by a new batting stance that features a George Brett-like open stance before closing it up when the pitcher goes into his delivery.
“I was facing a lefty one day, and I opened up my stance just to get a better look at his three-quarters delivery,” Danks said. “From that day on, that stance felt good, and I have stuck with it. It has been working better for me ever since.”
Like most young major league players, solving the off-speed pitches and fastballs on the hands separates the good from the below-average hitter. Adjustments and learning the pitchers has been part of the grooming for Danks.
“The more games you get up here, the more your confidence builds,” he said. “Getting more consistent playing time and not just facing late-inning guys has helped. It was good to face a starter two or three time a game and retaining consistency and muscle memory.”
The trade rumors that have been floating around Sox outfielders Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza haven’t gone by without notice for Danks.
“For the most part, guys deal with it pretty well,” Danks said. “A lot of times they are just rumors. As long as you go about your business and get the work in, things will pan out. For the most part, no one really thinks that much about it until something does happen. I would love to start, but if it doesn’t happen I will continue to work hard and lie in wait. Someday that will be it, and I will be a starter.”
Danks’ growth as a major leaguer has given Sox brass a strong indication he could platoon in left field and back up the other outfield spots. If the team trades one or two outfielders, Danks could be on his way to fulfilling his big league ambitions.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.