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White Sox

NOTES: White Sox pitcher John Danks closer to returning

CHICAGO – With three rehab starts down, White Sox pitcher John Danks is nearly ready to rejoin the rotation.

Danks allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits in six innings Sunday at Triple-A Charlotte. He struck out five and walked three batters on 101 pitches (65 strikes).

“As a whole, my command was great and I was ahead of the count to a majority of hitters,” Danks said. “I had good stuff, and I made the ball do what I wanted it to do.”

Danks told the pool reporter his curveball was the most effective it has been since his rookie season in 2007. Danks said there’s nothing specifically he needs to work on before he is activated from the disabled list but wants to be more consistent with his pitches, particularly his cutter and change-up.

“I don’t feel like I’m far off and know my stuff is there,” Danks said. “For the most part, I can make the ball do what I want. It’s about pulling it all together, give myself a chance.”

Danks will make his next start with Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday at Buffalo. That would put him on schedule to make his season debut May 24 against the Marlins at U.S. Cellular Field, if the Sox decided he does not need another rehab start after Saturday.

“I don’t think I need too much more,” Danks said. “I’m hoping I have another good one in the next one. I’m certain me and [general manager] Rick [Hahn] will be in touch and talk about that.”

Konerko stays fresh: Keeping Sox captain Paul Konerko on the field is a priority for manager Robin Ventura.

But that means Konerko will see more time as the Sox’s designated hitter. After filling in as the Sox’s DH on Saturday, Konerko was back in the lineup Sunday as the starting first baseman with a struggling Adam Dunn getting the night off against Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson.

Konerko, 37, has played 16 games at DH this season compared with 17 starts at first base. He’s on pace to easily surpass last year’s total appearances at DH (39).

“It's not like he's 55, but he is a little bit older than the average player,” Ventura said. “I'm just trying to take care of him in certain situations. He still needs to get out there and move around.”

RISP success: The Sox’s struggle to score runs each game is well documented, but they’re fortunes are beginning to turn with runners in scoring position.

In the Sox’s past 10 games, they are batting .303 (23 for 76) with RISP.

“There was a lot of solid contact through the middle of the field, which is better than just yanking things foul and trying to hit a home run every pitch,” Ventura said. “Guys are shortening up, staying in the middle of the field. Eventually that pays off.”

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