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updated: 8/29/2013 11:20 PM

White Sox' Jordan Danks making most of opportunity

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  • Jordan Danks watches his 2-run single off Astros relief pitcher Erik Bedard in the eighth inning of the White Sox' victory Tuesday night.

      Jordan Danks watches his 2-run single off Astros relief pitcher Erik Bedard in the eighth inning of the White Sox' victory Tuesday night.
    Associated Press


Last season hitting coach Jeff Manto was trying to explain why it took a White Sox outfielder so long to crack the starting lineup.

"There are hundreds of guys down there in the minor leagues just waiting for a chance," Manto said. "If you're patient enough and you're ready to go when your number's called, things like this happen. He was just fortunate enough to get the opportunity, and he capitalized on it."

Manto was talking about Alejandro De Aza, who finally broke through at the age of 28. But Manto could have been talking about 27-year-old Jordan Danks.

With outfielders such as Carlos Quentin, Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, Dayan Viciedo, De Aza and now Avisail Garcia getting the majority of the innings the past three years, Danks patiently has waited at Class AAA Charlotte or on the White Sox' bench.

But with the Sox now looking toward 2014, Danks has started four of the last seven games, going 6-for-15 with 3 doubles, a home run and 3 RBI.

If opportunity is suddenly knocking, Danks is opening the door.

"Every time I get an opportunity to get in there, my goal is to obviously help the team win but also to impress and show that I can play at this level," said Danks, the younger brother of White Sox starter John Danks.

Does he think he could be a full-time outfielder for the Sox?

"It's in the back of my mind, but I'm not really concentrating on that right now," he said. "I'm just trying to take advantage of the opportunity I'm getting. There's definitely no doubt in my mind that I could do that, but I'm here to play whatever role they want me to and help the team win any way I can.

"Whether that's starting like I have been recently or coming off the bench and helping them late in the game, I'm just here to help."

Danks is an above-average defensive outfielder, and even at 6-feet-4, 210 pounds, he has standout speed and is often used as a pinch runner.

The bat always has been the big bugaboo, but Danks has come alive with playing time. He was riding a career-best nine-game hitting streak before going 0-for-3 in Wednesday's 6-1 win over Houston.

"Consistently getting playing time, it helps," said Danks, who is batting .253 with 3 home runs and 7 RBI in 57 games with the White Sox this season. "You can get in a groove and start feeling comfortable at the plate.

"But after playing the role of a relief guy the last two years, I've learned a lot about that and how I need to prepare myself to come out there and get that job done as well."

If Danks continues to produce over the final month, maybe he replaces De Aza in center field next year. Or maybe Viciedo replaces Paul Konerko at first base or moves to designated hitter, opening up a spot in left field for the left-handed hitting Danks.

"He's a talented guy and has a big body and a lot of talent and a lot of tools to use out there," Konerko said of Danks. "It's being in there and seeing some pitches on an everyday basis, or at least four times, five times per week.

"There's just no substitute for that, no matter how much you work in the cage or talk about it. There's no substitute for being out there. It's nice to see. He's a great team guy. He's swinging the bat well."

Danks already has been optioned back to Charlotte twice this season, and he also was sent down two times last year. He has never complained or asked to be traded, and that has earned Danks some serious respect in the Sox' clubhouse.

"It's never been a talent thing with Jordan," Adam Dunn said. "Everybody knows he's really talented, and I think once he gets the opportunity to go out there and play, he'll show what he can do.

"I think you've just got to figure out yourself more than anything, what kind of hitter you're trying to be or what kind of hitter you are.

"Jordan's a big guy, but he's more kind of a gap-to-gap guy. He's obviously got power, but I wouldn't assume he's a guy that's going to go out and pop you 35 (home runs) every year."

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