Sale & Danks’ shoulders initiate rotation shuffle


May 17, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers (21), starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) and pitching coach Don Cooper (99) walk from the bullpen before playing against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Before anything else, how about that Jose Quintana kid, huh?

Dylan Axelrod made a good Red Sox lineup look ordinary on Monday and Quintana went a step further to make them look inept at squaring pitches up through 6.1 innings of no-hit ball.

It might come off as a slight to the secondary pitches he’s been steadily working on and incorporating more, but Quintana’s success is a testament to how much can be done with elite fastball command. Nine of the 11 swings-and-misses Quintana induced Tuesday night were off his four-seam fastball, which he showed more ability to rush up in the mid-90’s, touching 95 mph in the late-May heat. He also pounded the zone, started 17 of 24 batters with a strike and established enough command to make the instances where he climbed the ladders with high heat that much more effective. It’s his set-up pitch and his put-away offering.

That said, it was probably more of a night of incredible locating for Quintana, rather than a new breakthrough in his ability level. But his progress is so steady that there’s no real point differentiating.

Chris Sale’s shoulder

Any Chris Sale injury is reason to hold family members desperately and weep in fear, but the White Sox are out ahead of the panic about tendinitis in the back of Sale’s pitching shoulder–minimizing its severity and insisting Sale will be ready for his next start after getting scratched for Wednesday’s game.

Ventura has termed the measure as “precautionary,” yes Sale admitted that the injury left him unable to complete his mid-week throwing program and the team doctor shut had to command him to sit out. The idea that Sale would ever ignore this condition and grit his way through a start in late-May seems like more of a product of his own reckless determination–which is welcome!–than something a baseball organization would actually knowingly approve.

It’s encouraging that there’s no declining performance or long-term concern associated with this injury yet, but placing absolute confidence that a lingering pain will be a non-issue after one turn through the rotation is a shade too trusting until we actually reach next week.

Naturally, sitting in the wake of all this concern over a more heralded pitcher and eagerly accepting the ball on short rest despite throwing a bullpen session on Tuesday is Hector Santiago. The difference in treatment is stark, and one that Santiago obviously realizes is necessary if he’s going to continue to grab opportunities.

John Danks

Santiago was originally scheduled to start Friday. His shifting makes the decision on when John Danks should make his return during the series opener against the Miami Marlins a seemingly foregone conclusion. The day off Thursday means the Sox could not promote Danks and still avoid pushing anyone into another short rest situation

Yet the open slot and the easy transition against a punchless, Giancarlo Stanton- free offense it offers is as close as it comes to an ideal setting for Danks’ return…

…save for perhaps a less adrenaline-soaked game on the road.

…or not till after Danks can post strong results in AAA, to ease concerns since he couldn’t post good results before the surgery and his struggles to post good results in spring training prompted this rehab assignment in the first place.

Beyond that, working through command and velocity troubles against the Marlins is the best choice.

If nothing else, the Sale missed start allows for the Sox to go through the starting rotation once more before making a call on who, if anyone, will get pushed aside to make more room for what John Danks can contribute to a ballclub.

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan