CHICAGO -- Chris Sale threw a 40-pitch bullpen session prior to Monday's contest with the Cubs, marking his first time pitching off the mound since he was placed on the disabled list retroactive to April 18 with a flexor muscle strain in his left arm.
The solid reviews from Sale to pitching coach Don Cooper to manager Robin Ventura to general manager Rick Hahn might be the last words spoken on Sale until he embarks on a rehab assignment 10 days to two weeks down the line per Hahn's guess. The White Sox have a plan, a plan that is day to day based on how Sale feels, but that plan will be more on a need-to-know basis as far as the public is concerned.
"It's weird because I think quite frankly that we have been extraordinarily transparent about all these injuries and what has transpired, but still there has been daily speculation about where he's at and what it means," said Hahn of Sale, who will miss his fourth scheduled start as of Wednesday. "Not just with Chris but with some of the other injured guys. Frankly it makes me, at least personally, preferring to go to an NHL style and just tell you it's an upper-body injury and see you in the morning skate.
"This is more art than science when you are starting to rebuild a guy back. Right now, clinically he feels great and he's progressing, but I don't want to put a marker in the sand saying he's going to do this on Day 4 because if for some reason he doesn't do this on Day 4, it creates panic. In reality, it's just a natural process of rebuilding a guy's arm strength."
Sale said that he got after it "pretty good" during the 40-pitch effort, but was reluctant to go into any sort of detail at first despite being surrounded by media in the cramped visitors' clubhouse at Wrigley Field. The affable White Sox ace has become a go-to quote, but he doesn't want his comeback to take away from the everyday action on the field, so he has stayed quiet since addressing the injury in Detroit.
"I deserve a certain level of privacy in terms of myself and my teammates and my coaches and training staff and general manager, manager," Sale said. "The more we keep to ourselves the less people can speculate, and that's helped the process a little bit in terms of hecticness coming with what's involved. We're trying to keep this at bay as much as we can and try not to leak too much information out as much as what it is and what it isn't.
"I'm not going to sit here and lie to you -- I feel much better than when we started this process. There's nothing there today that made me think there should be any steps back or any setbacks."
If Sale responds well Tuesday, he'll probably throw again Wednesday. A return date to the Majors still is a guess the White Sox aren't willing to make at this point.
"That's not my decision," Sale said. "I go out there and throw and relay to them how I feel and then we'll assess it from there."
"Today, the big thing was how do you feel before, during and after, meaning tomorrow, too," Cooper said. "We are not anticipating anything because it went really good."
Alexei proud of collecting 1,000th hit in win
CHICAGO -- In seven seasons with Pinar del Rio in Cuba, Alexei Ramirez finished with 680 career hits.
With a 12th-inning, two-out single to right off Justin Grimm in Monday's 3-1 victory over the Cubs, the White Sox shortstop reached 1,000 hits in his Major League career over six seasons and a little more than one month, as well as 1,400 more at-bats.
"I'm very, very happy. That's a good accomplishment," said Ramirez through interpreter and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "I couldn't get to 1,000 hits in Cuba, and that was something I wanted to get to. It's good that I got it here."
"He's swinging it and he's feeling good about it," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "Any time a guy keeps going and you get up to 1,000. You see [Miguel] Cabrera had 2,000 the other day. It's an accomplishment. This year, he seems to be swinging the bat and feeling pretty good offensively."
Ramirez, who is hitting .328, took pride in the 1,000th hit leading to the game-winning run. But he gave all the credit to Marcus Semien for delivering the deciding double.
Jones undergoes back procedure to alleviate pain
CHICAGO -- Nate Jones underwent a successful microdiscectomy procedure Monday at Rush University Medical Center, with general manager Rick Hahn adding that the doctors found what they expected in doing the surgery.
The right-handed reliever was bothered by glute pain at the start of Spring Training, which was further diagnosed as hip pain. Monday's surgery doesn't necessarily mean that Jones won't return this year.
"Everything went very smoothly and very well," said Hahn of Jones, who did not retire any of the five batters he faced this season. "We'll re-evaluate in a month.
"After a month, it's conceivable we'll ramp up baseball activities and he can return soon thereafter as tolerated by the baseball activities. At that point, it's more about getting him into pitching shape than dealing with the back. We'll see in a month and come up with a timeframe then."
Hahn hopes rivals can someday play in October
CHICAGO -- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn broached an interesting idea on how to return a little more intensity to the Cubs-White Sox rivalry.
Add a few games in October, with the World Series title on the line.
"I hope we get to the point where these games matter 11 times a year instead of just four," Hahn said. "It's nice for the fans. It's always a little heightened level of intensity over your normal regular-season game.
"But the two we played last week with Detroit, the three we've got coming up with Kansas City, they are more relevant to our year than these four games are against the Cubs," Hahn added.
Hahn was reminded that 11 games between the two would mean the World Series went to seven games. He quickly amended his choice to eight games, with the White Sox sweeping.
"It would be a wonderful thing for the city," Hahn said. "I don't know if my stomach could handle it, but it would be a wonderful thing for this city and baseball in this town if these games could matter 11 times a year instead of just four."
Dunn finds himself out in left field
CHICAGO -- For the first time this season and for the 11th time since he joined the White Sox, Adam Dunn found himself in the outfield on Monday night. Dunn started in left and hit fourth against the Cubs, a move made even more necessary with the absence of Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton.
"Obviously, it's an adjustment, but it's a fun one," Dunn said. "It is something that I've done in the past quite a bit, but it's been a while since I've been out there. Again, it's going to be fun to get out there and run around a little bit.
"I probably have loser denial about some stuff, but I feel like once I get out there I can do it. This isn't any different, that's for sure."
The White Sox can't afford to lose Dunn's bat, with the designated hitter who has played 1,107 career games in the outfielder having reached base in 23 of his 25 games. Dunn admits that the nuances of Wrigley Field make left a bit tougher.
"Especially at night here," Dunn said. "It seems the lights aren't as high, obviously, as other places. It's not as bright. The field's not as bright. The wall and the wind and all that stuff. It should be fine."
Third to first
• Sunday's comeback win over the Indians (trailing in the eighth or later) was the first on the road for the White Sox since May 16, 2013, against the Angels. The White Sox had lost their previous 53 road games when trailing in the eighth inning or later, the longest active losing of that kind in the Majors per Elias. Miami now owns that longest streak at 39.
• Tyler Danish earned his third win for Class A Kannapolis and extended his scoreless innings streak to 16. Danish ranks among the South Atlantic League leaders in ERA (0.84), WHIP (1.00) and opponents' average (.205).
• The White Sox lead the Majors with 30 ninth-inning runs this season, nine more than second-place Oakland.
• Hahn compared the Eaton move to the disabled list to the way they've handled Sale, in that they aren't taking unnecessary risks with a valuable commodity.
"With the 15 days, he's able to rest and stay off his legs for the first week or so," Hahn said. "Then he can slowly ramp back up and he, too, eventually will be on a rehab assignment at some point in this 15-day period, and we'll go from there."