Danks working with Cooper on pitch variation

Rodon 'relaxed' in Intrasquad start, Rollins mentoring young infielders

Danks working with Cooper on pitch variation

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The 2016 season will be by-the-numbers for John Danks.

At least that's the statistical study Danks and White Sox pitching Don Cooper set up when they met in Nashville during the offseason.

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"Our plan of attack is to put myself in the best possible position," said Danks, who starts the White Sox Cactus League opener Thursday against the Dodgers. "Meaning, use different pitches in different situations than I'm accustomed.

"Just really relying on the numbers best we can. We are going to sit down and look at that a little closer when it gets closer to time."

Numbers didn't work in Danks' favor overall the last two seasons, with an 18-26 record in 371 1/3 innings and a 4.73 ERA. But Danks finished '15 with six quality starts during his last 10 trips to the mound, and he hopes to enhance what could be his final year with the White Sox by studying statistics and tendencies a little closer.

"Really, just percentages of swings, outs, balls put on the ground on certain pitches. We really hadn't looked at it real close. We've only talked about it," Danks said. "But for example, maybe I was falling into a pattern of not throwing my curveball enough. We are looking at that. That buys me a strike, which is one less time I have to throw a changeup, which makes it that much better.

"This is something we've looked at in the most recent years. But this year, I think we really are going to dive in and really attack it. Coop was excited. Just the little bit we've talked about it has me excited."

"We are looking to play into his strengths a little bit more," Cooper said. "This is stuff I look at with every one of our guys. It gives me valuable information on what they do well, what they don't do so well. It gives me direction on where we got to go, what we might have to get better."

Rodon feels at home
The difference in the first two Spring Trainings for Carlos Rodon was evident to the left-hander simply from his two-inning Intrasquad start on Tuesday.

Rodon on his intrasquad start

"Last year if I had to do that, I would probably be nervous," said Rodon, who allowed four hits and three runs, while fanning two. "This year, it's just relaxed, just going out there knowing I have something to work on, just trying to get better. I'm a little more comfortable, knowing you're going to be a guy that's pitching."

Rodon became a Cactus League starter last season when Chris Sale fractured a bone in his right foot. He makes his next start Sunday against the Padres as the No. 3 man in the White Sox rotation.

Rollins works well with others
Jimmy Rollins has been working on his game through the first two weeks of Spring Training, but he has also done what he could to help younger infielders such as Tyler Saladino and No. 2 prospect Tim Anderson.

"There isn't a competition in that sense," Rollins said. "The future is going to be TA, and my job and even with Tyler, my job is to make sure when they are playing, especially defensively, they are giving themselves the best chance to make that play consistently."

These young players have asked Rollins questions. But when he's viewed some nuance worth changing, Rollins has offered up advice. That situation happened recently with Anderson.

"I didn't want to go out and make a judgement, but I watched him do it 10 times in a row and I'm like, 'Ok, that's just what he does. I could make that better,'" Rollins said. "But he listens. He adapts very well, and it's a matter of him growing to a Major League shortstop."

Intrasquad conclusion
Team Frazier and Team Abreu split the two Intrasquad games played, with Team Frazier claiming an 8-4 victory on Tuesday. Avisail Garcia hit a two-run homer to right, while J.B. Shuck finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs. Adam Eaton played the entire game and had two singles, while Matt Davidson added a two-run double.

Ventura on Garcia, Quintana

They said it
"Outs are spectacular, not spectacular plays." Rollins' defensive wisdom.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.