White Sox

White Sox GM Hahn Calls Danks, Youngsters’ Development Keys To Season

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn. (David Banks/Getty Images)

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn. (David Banks/Getty Images)

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(CBS) In an interview with the McNeil and Spiegel Show on Monday morning, White Sox general manager called pitcher John Danks and the progression of the team’s younger players the keys to Chicago outperforming expectations this season.

The White Sox host the Twins in their season opener this afternoon.

“If that’s going to be the case for us, it’s going to be for two main reasons,” Hahn said when asked what it will take to surprise outsiders and contend. “First, the starting pitching is going to stay together — John Danks being 18 months post-op is going to return to form, being that guy he was before, much less Chris Sale and Jose Quintana continuing on the upswing that we’ve seen from them the first few years.

“Additionally, some of our young players are going to wind up immediately (reaching their) ceiling. Not obviously saying that’s going to happen, but in that best-case scenario, Adam Eaton’s going to show you that ability to get on base, run, play defense the way he’s shown throughout his minor league career. Avisail Garcia’s going to not only hit for power but also average and improve that plate discipline a little bit. Jose Abreu’s going to be the same player he was in Cuba. All those guys have that upside. We certainly believe they’re going to reach that upside. Whether that starts on March 31st or it starts midway through the year, that’s for us to play out here.”

Hahn also reiterated why team leader Paul Konerko didn’t start at designated hitter on his final Opening Day. Konerko declined the offer to start over Adam Dunn, with whom he’s platooning this season, because the right-handed Ricky Nolasco was pitching.

“I don’t view today as 100 percent ceremonial,” Hahn said. “We have a ball game to win … and the matchups indicate that Adam Dunn’s a better fit in that lineup against Ricky Nolasco than Paul Konerko is. Paulie put it best. Paulie said to (manager) Robin (Ventura) two days ago, ‘If I’m not going to play against Nolasco on day 10, then why would I be in the lineup Opening Day? We have a ball game to win.'”