CHICAGO -- The next step on John Danks' comeback trail will be traveled soon by the southpaw.
After throwing six innings and 87 pitches in his final extended spring start on Friday in Arizona, Danks will be moving to one of the White Sox Minor League affiliates this week to begin his rehab assignment. Danks had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder last Aug. 6, and despite intense offseason work, he did not break camp with the team so he could work on improving his velocity and location.
While this upcoming stint certainly will take more than one or two Minor League starts, Danks is moving closer to a big league return.
"We're going to really monitor him a little closer now, because he's a hop, skip and a jump possibly from being back in the big leagues," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. "The question that John's going to have to answer -- and he'll have that answer before anybody else, he'll know better than anybody else, and we talked about this, John and I -- the question is, 'Are you ready to go win a Major League game?'
"He knows what it takes to win here. He knows what he's got to have equipment wise and stuff wise. And that's what we're trying to hone in on now. We're getting down to it. And he's got a little bit more to climb."
An exact date and place for Danks' first rehab start will be announced later.
"It's time for him to get out [of Arizona]," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Hopefully it keeps being a step closer to being ready to pitch and being healthy."
"Hopefully that climb continues. He's already ahead of schedule," Cooper said. "This is something we didn't want to rush. He's not even a year past surgery, but the final preparation is underway."
Keppinger out again due to lower back spasms
CHICAGO -- For a second straight game, Tyler Greene started at second base and hit second for the White Sox with Jeff Keppinger out of action due to lower back spasms. Manager Robin Ventura believes a trip to the disabled list for Keppinger is not likely at this point, but not out of the question.
"Anything's possible," Ventura said. "We'll get through tonight and see where he is. With that, [White Sox athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider] will let me know if it's going in that direction.
"Right now, they're just treating him and trying to get him ready. So far, he won't start. He's down."
Dewayne Wise, who was scratched from Friday's starting lineup with a stiff neck, was ready for action Saturday -- although not in the lineup -- per Ventura.
"We're piecing it together," Ventura said. "This just seems to be a time where we've got a lot of guys that are hurt. We're using guys from the Minor Leagues that fortunately we've seen in Spring Training, and they feel comfortable coming up here."
White Sox riding big home runs to victories
CHICAGO -- To characterize the White Sox as solely a home run-based offense is a bit of a misnomer.
But this team does seem to win the games where the hitters deliver game-changing home runs. Take a look at Chicago's 10 victories from the 2013 season entering Saturday night's contest as examples.
Win 1: Tyler Flowers' solo homer serves as the only run in a 1-0 victory against the Royals.
Win 2: Adam Dunn, Dayan Viciedo and Flowers all hit solo homers in knocking out Kansas City's Ervin Santana.
Win 3: Alex Rios' two-run homer off of Felix Hernandez gives the White Sox the lead.
Win 4: Vicideo hits a walk-off 10th-inning blast off of the Mariners' Kameron Loe.
Win 5: Paul Konerko's two-run homer off of Brett Myers erases a 1-0 Indians' lead and helps the White Sox end a five-game losing streak.
Win 6: Konerko's seventh-inning homer off of Josh Johnson ties the game after the Blue Jays took the lead in the previous half-inning.
Win 7: Flowers' three-run shot off of J.A. Happ in the second gets the White Sox going.
Win 8: A two-run homer from Rios in the fifth gives the White Sox a three-run advantage over Cleveland starter Zach McAllister.
Win 9: Dunn gives the White Sox breathing room with a two-run drive in the sixth off of Jeremy Hellickson.
Win 10: An unlikely trio of Hector Gimenez, Tyler Greene and Conor Gillaspie all go deep, with Greene's homer giving the White Sox control after trailing 3-0.
Like it or not, the home run is a staple of the White Sox attack.
"That's not a knock against our team. We've got plenty of guys in this lineup capable of hitting 20-plus home runs," White Sox starter Jake Peavy said. "We've got to tighten up and score any which way we can, but we are a good team, and we win and we play with the best teams in baseball when we run into some long balls and pitch the way we are capable of pitching.
"If you watched us play last year, that's really what we do. We seem to win when we hit the ball out of the ballpark."
Those home runs increase as the weather warms up at U.S. Cellular Field, as it has this weekend, meaning the White Sox pitchers also have to be on alert. Chicago's success also is predicated on strong efforts from the men on the mound, with solid defense behind them.
"This team, when you look at it, we are built on pitching and defense, and we got some guys who are -- throughout the lineup -- who do damage," Peavy said. "They have to do damage for us to score runs and win, and they will, especially when the weather warms up."
Third to first
• Left-hander Charlie Leesman rejected his waiver claim assignment to Texas and re-signed a Minor League deal with the White Sox. Leesman, 26, has reported back to extended spring camp to continue rehab from offseason surgery on his left knee. The White Sox designated Leesman for assignment on April 14 and granted his unconditional release on April 17.
• According to Elias, Gimenez joins Tadahito Iguchi in 2005 as the only 30-or-older rookies over the last 60 years to hit his first Major League homer for the White Sox. Gimenez, 30, hit his Friday night off of Roberto Hernandez.
• The White Sox bullpen ERA of 2.11 is tops in the American League entering Saturday.