GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ask Alex Rios how he feels at the plate right now, and the White Sox right fielder, who is coming off of his best big league season, smiles and points out that it's a little early in Spring Training to make such a judgment. But taking part in the World Baseball Classic, with Rios leaving March 3 to train with Team Puerto Rico, will greatly enhance that preparatory process in Rios' mind.
"I believe it gets you readier than Spring Training games because you have to go almost at full throttle," Rios said. "It's a good experience. It's something that you look forward to doing. It's something different, I guess."
With Rios, Carlos Beltran, Andres Torres and Angel Pagan committed to playing for Puerto Rico, manager Edwin Rodriguez has plenty of options in terms of outfield positioning. All four can play center field, meaning Rios could end up somewhere other than his customary right-field slot.
"You know what, I have no clue," said Rios, when asked if he knew his exact spot in the Team Puerto Rico outfield. "We are going to have to see where, how the outfield evolves. I don't know if Beltran is going to play center or right. It depends on what they want to do."
Depth of pitching staff may give White Sox edge
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It didn't take White Sox reliever Matt Lindstrom very long to realize what his team could have in its 2013 pitching staff.
"We have a chance to carry this club, and we all know we can score runs," Lindstrom said. "I would say one through 12, with our starters, and who we have in our bullpen, it's probably as deep of a staff as I've ever been on."
Lindstrom's comment certainly isn't meant as some sort of dig at the White Sox offense. It's a group that has scored at least eight runs in four of its first five Cactus League games, although many of those runs are being brought home by players who won't make the Opening Day roster against pitchers who won't be there either.
With Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo in the middle of their lineup, the White Sox have a chance to provide plenty of solid support. Ultimately, though, teams win and lose championships based on their pitching staffs. It was true for the White Sox in 2005 and should be true again in 2013.
"I've said a good pitching staff can literally take you to the White House," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "And when you are not performing, it can literally take you to the [outhouse].
"Let me tell you this. I've always thought we have to carry the team. We've seen it. We've lived it. You only go as far as the pitching staff. I've always thought that the responsibility, the biggest one, is the pitching staff's."
Cooper reiterated an old mantra that there are three areas needed for victory: pitching, offense and defense. The White Sox might rely a little more on that first element.
Their regular starting staff takes center stage beginning Friday, with Chris Sale getting the call. Dylan Axelrod, Erik Johnson, Nestor Molina and Simon Castro were a few of the younger starters who took the mound during this first week, showing the White Sox they might be more than 12-deep on their staff.
Thornton passes live BP test
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Thornton threw two sets of 20 pitches during Wednesday's live batting-practice session, officially putting behind him triceps soreness from early in camp.
Thornton will throw a bullpen on Saturday and get into his first Cactus League game on March 5 at home against Team USA.
"I threw everything I had and as I went along, I amped up the intensity and let 'em go," Thornton said. "Got out there real good and had no problem at all."
An extended Spring Training because of the World Baseball Classic actually benefited Thornton, who backed off his schedule a bit when the soreness flared. He basically took one live BP out of his schedule, giving him four bullpens and two live BPs before his appearance.
"It kind of went the wrong way this time," said Thornton, who admitted he cranked it up a little too much a little too early during Spring Training. "We backed off a couple days, picked it right back up and didn't lose anything I worked for this offseason."
Santiago remains on starter's schedule
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After starting in his first Cactus League appearance Monday against the Giants, Hector Santiago is scheduled to follow Jose Quintana to the mound Saturday against the Reds.
It does not appear that Santiago is going to start the 2013 season as part of the rotation, with John Danks well on his way to recovery from Aug. 6 arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. But Santiago continues to follow a routine that will stretch him out.
"I'm ready for anything," said Santiago, who will throw either two or three innings behind Quintana's two. "I thought I was starting [Saturday] and I came in and saw it, and it was, 'OK, I'm in relief, but I'm starting in my head.' It's kind of doing the best of both.
This starter preparation for Santiago included throwing a bullpen on Wednesday.
Third to first
• Alexei Ramirez returned home to Florida to take care of a family matter. He should return to White Sox camp this weekend.
• Jordan Danks reported marked improvement in his sore right elbow from Tuesday to Wednesday. He threw from 45 feet on Wednesday but won't be back in action until he's completely healthy. Danks believes this weekend is possible or the start of next week at the latest.
• Adam Dunn was hit above the right elbow by a Robbie Ross pitch during Wednesday's 8-4 White Sox victory. Dunn sustained a bruise, but the ball did not hit the bone.
• Paul Konerko's fifth-inning homer on Wednesday marked his 18th in Cactus League play since 2006.
• The South Siders' 3-0-2 record remarkably represents their best start since moving to the Cactus League in 1998.
"You can start out a little flat," manager Robin Ventura said. "But you go with a couple of ties, it helps out instead of losses."