NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider made a trip to Austin, Texas, within the past 10 days to check in on John Danks and his rehab program following arthroscopic shoulder surgery on Aug. 6. According to general manager Rick Hahn, the ensuing update was a positive one.
"Hermie said that John is progressing well and on target with his throwing program and everything remains cautiously optimistic as we head into Spring Training," said Hahn. "He's playing catch. But Herm and [White Sox pitching coach] Don Cooper have mapped out every day of his offseason leading up to Spring Training."
According to comments Danks made back in early November, that path ideally will have him throwing off the mound at the start of 2013. Getting Danks back in healthy form represents one of the reasons why Hahn believes the White Sox can challenge the Tigers for the American League Central crown despite Detroit bringing in Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez's return.
"We have to be aware of what we're chasing. It certainly factors into the team we want to build," Hahn said. "We can't look at ourselves and say, as we look around our room and talk to our scouts and coaches and look at our clubs and say maybe we're an 80-82 win team. We can't think in good faith that's going to capture the Tigers, given what they've accomplished and the players they've added.
"Fortunately, we don't look at ourselves that way. We like our team. We like the fact we're bringing back Jake Peavy. We like the fact Chris Sale will be a year deeper into his career. Our bullpen will have experience under its belt from last year. We'll add our Opening Day starter from last year who really didn't factor in much from last year. But we still have some areas we need to improve to compete with the Tigers."
Rienzo to play for Brazil in World Baseball Classic
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Andre Rienzo stood as the lone White Sox representative among the 32 players confirmed early to take part in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, as released on Monday.
Rienzo, the fast-rising right-handed prospect with a chance to make the White Sox Opening Day roster, will pitch for Brazil after posting a 7-3 record and 2.53 ERA over 18 starts made between Class A Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte last season.
Hector Santiago already has mentioned plans to pitch for Puerto Rico, while Jose Quintana could suit up for Colombia. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn certainly expects more than Rienzo to take part and has mixed feelings about their participation during Spring Training.
"It's tough because you get conflicted," Hahn said. "You are wearing your White Sox hat and you want to protect all your guys and have them under your watchful eye and being able to monitor what they are doing vs. trying to wear your 'what's good for the industry hat' and realize this is a big event and a big deal for baseball. It has international appeal.
"You want to do what you can to support them," said Hahn, before adding with a smile, "I'm paid to wear a White Sox hat right now."
One player who will not be participating is Chris Sale. The White Sox All-Star southpaw told MLB.com earlier this offseason that it would be a thrill to represent his country and pitch for Team USA, but he has to put the White Sox first.
"I don't think throwing in competition earlier than I was supposed to be is best for myself and the team," Sale told MLB.com during a phone interview from his Florida home. "I want to be as strong as I can for the whole year, for myself and for my team. I want to still have gas left in the tank if we get into October like I hope."
Hahn comfortable as leader of discussion
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Aside from now leading the organizational discussions at the Winter Meetings, like the one that took place before he met with the media on Monday, Rick Hahn doesn't feel much difference as general manager as opposed to past years as assistant general manager and doesn't see a change in those White Sox meetings. Hahn also values the input from executive vice president Ken Williams, who served as general manager for the past 12 years.
"Regardless of title, we had thrown out different ideas and spoke openly in these four walls about how they view the team and how they view our alternatives and what we want to accomplish," Hahn said. "For the last couple of hours, Kenny was sitting across the table from me and just like our scouts and other front-office employees, he was throwing out different ideas and scenarios that were on his mind as well, giving his opinion.
"Over the last six weeks that I have been in this new role, he has been a tremendous resource for me. And he continues in the same sort of aggressive and creative style that he had when he was sitting in this chair."