CHICAGO -- At the 51-game mark of a 162-game season, the White Sox believe it's still too early to talk about missed opportunities within the American League Central. Instead, they take a quick glance at the division standings and look with some wonderment at the team being only 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers and three behind the Indians.
"The good news is we are only 4 1/2 games out. How? I don't know. But we are," White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn said. "Of course, if we don't play better, we've got no shot."
Entering Thursday's contest at Wrigley Field, the White Sox ranked 14th in the AL in batting average and average with runners in scoring position and 15th in runs per game, runs scored and on-base percentage. Their defense has been suspect as a whole, and they've lost right-hander Gavin Floyd for the season and left-hander John Danks, second baseman Gordon Beckham and left fielder Dayan Viciedo for significant blocks of time.
To still be as close to the top as they are gives the White Sox a sense of hope. Then again, the question to be answered by general manager Rick Hahn, manager Robin Ventura and the players is whether the Tigers really are catchable.
"It's 4 1/2 games separating us. That doesn't seem like they are that much better than us," Dunn said. "I don't think they were that much better than us last year or we were that much better than them last year."
"We have scuffled the last couple of days, but that's going to happen," White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale said. "Our overall team standing shouldn't be looked at as just the last couple of days. Before those two days, we played very good baseball. We just had a hiccup there."
Dunn takes a mental, physical break Thursday
CHICAGO -- Playing through or with pain is not one of the toughest things for White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn to handle.
Taking himself out of the lineup because of that pain? Well, that's another story.
Dunn left early from a May 18 game in Anaheim because of lower back pain and only did so because he couldn't bend down to field his position at first base. Since that day, Dunn's hot streak has turned into a 2-for-31 funk with 18 strikeouts going into Thursday afternoon's personal break against the Cubs.
It's an injury that probably caused Dunn to alter his swing or approach, to his detriment in the short term.
"You know, yeah, probably," Dunn said. "Until you get put in the situation, like the back thing, where you come out of a game and you are feeling good swinging the bat good, then we lose that game. ... That's what we do.
"Is it smart? Looking back, no. It was stupid. But I can't. I'm done trying to convince myself that I could lay low and pull myself and sit down. I can't do it."
In Wednesday's loss, the good news for Dunn was that he went to a full count in his first three at-bats and then hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth. The bad news is that the result of those first three at-bats were strikeouts.
"That first at-bat, I swung at a stupid pitch 3-2," Dunn said. "The rest of them, they made good pitches, and when you are going bad, they make really good pitches.
"Hopefully, sitting out today, just kind of, I'm not even going to pick up a bat, just relax, let everything calm down and pick it up tomorrow."
Sale not concerned about delivery's impact on arm
CHICAGO -- Some pundits will look at Chris Sale's elbow soreness last May that temporarily moved him to the closer's role and his shoulder tendinitis that cost him last Wednesday's start and point to his sort of wild delivery as a cause for the problems.
If it's not a cause now, then it figures to be in the future. But Sale is not changing anything about the way he pitches.
"Both of those injuries weren't serious, knock on wood," Sale said. "I wouldn't chalk those up as threatening injuries. I didn't go on the DL for either of them. I got a precautionary MRI last year because that was something I wanted to do.
"So, yeah, I mean people are going to say what they want to say. In one ear and out the other for me. I'm going to keep pitching the same way and just adjust accordingly."
Sale felt fine during his start Tuesday night that was postponed after he had worked three innings, then felt fine during his workout Wednesday and after throwing a bullpen session on Thursday. He is scheduled to start Sunday in Oakland.
Konerko, White Sox lend support to Blackhawks
CHICAGO -- Approximately 25 members of the White Sox coaching staff and active roster attended the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime victory Wednesday night over the Red Wings in a deciding Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals. Paul Konerko, a diehard hockey fan, also participated in a shootout with Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
Konerko, an accomplished hockey player in his youth who still skates from time to time, hit on two goals. Samardzija was shut out.
"Yeah. It was fun," said Konerko. "I didn't know really what to expect out there, but I had fun with it. It was over and done with pretty quick."
Manager Robin Ventura predicted a 3-1 Blackhawks victory before the game, so he came pretty close to the final score and had the winner. He predicted the Blackhawks will defeat the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference final, but he didn't give the amount of games.
"You sense everybody pulling for them," said Ventura of the Blackhawks. "But you're looking at the energy that was in the building, that's the fun part in it all, showing a little support. It's great, it's great for the city. They deserve it."
"People were there early. The place was packed at like 6:15 [for a 7 p.m. start]," Konerko said. "Everybody was in their seats by 6:30. You don't see that much. And it was a good game. It really could have gone either way. Everybody got their money's worth, that's for sure."
Third to first
• Ventura said that pulling John Danks for pinch-hitter Casper Wells after four innings in Wednesday's 9-3 loss to the Cubs was not about being safe with the left-hander in just his second start off the disabled list.
"Yesterday it wasn't," Ventura said. "It was more [an] NL-type game and having a pinch-hitter coming up. If it wasn't an NL game, he still would have been in there."
• Ken "Hawk" Harrelson missed his second straight game Thursday because of a sore throat. Steve Stone once again handled play-by-play television duties, with Mike Huff providing commentary. Harrelson is expected to return to the broadcast booth for Friday night's series opener in Oakland.
• Leyson Septimo will begin his injury rehabilitation assignment Thursday night with Triple-A Charlotte. The left-handed hurler has been on the disabled list since March 22 with a left shoulder strain.