GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With members of the rotation not scheduled to get into Cactus League action until Chris Sale pitches on March 1, some of the younger hurlers will move to center stage during the first week of Spring Training.
Dylan Axelrod falls a step ahead of some of those fast-rising prospects, with 99 days of Major League experience. But in handling Saturday's Cactus League opener, against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, the 27-year-old is still more than ready to take advantage of the opportunity.
"We are all excited to get started," Axelrod said. "It really feels like the start of the season, almost. It's an honor to get out there first and just start my season off on the right note. No matter what happens, just control what I can and do my best."
Axelrod posted a 5.47 ERA in 14 games -- seven of which were starts -- last year. If John Danks is healthy and ready to break camp with the team, it's unlikely Axelrod goes to Chicago, and even if Danks starts the season on the disabled list, Axelrod might not be next in line. Axelrod also knows from last year that one or two injuries could lead to a big league call.
"Things can change quickly," he said, "so I don't try to look at things too in-depth or play that game. It's tough to figure things out. So I just try to do the best I can, and I have faith something will happen for me down the road. And you know, I'll be ready."
"He's a quality pitcher. He knows what he's doing," said manager Robin Ventura. "He knows what he's got. He's not afraid of going out there, even though it's Opening Day of Spring Training, so he's kind of moved up the ladder as far as maturity level."
De Aza ready for World Baseball Classic
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Alejandro De Aza was contacted back in November about playing for the Dominican Republic in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
"I just didn't have the information or anything," said De Aza, adding that he received the official call about three weeks ago.
De Aza joins outfielder Alex Rios (Puerto Rico), right-handed starter Andre Rienzo (Brazil) and right-handed reliever Jesse Crain (Canada) as players in camp who will take part in the Classic. Minor Leaguer Andy Gonzalez also will play for Puerto Rico.
"It was the greatest feeling," said De Aza of being asked to play for his country. "I will go there just to be a part of it. That's what I'm thinking. I'm just going to try to do the little things to get me ready and go play."
Rios and De Aza will be part of Pool C, at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico. Rienzo plays in Pool A, in Japan, and Crain's Canadian team joins Team USA in Pool D, in Phoenix.
White Sox agree to terms with 25 on 2013 contracts
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox announced on Friday that they have agreed to terms on 2013 contracts with 25 players.
Dayan Viciedo is at the top of this list, earning $2.8 million. Chris Sale is next, at $600,000, followed by Addison Reed, at $520,000. The league minimum is $490,000.
The others who agreed to terms are pitchers Dylan Axelrod, Simon Castro, Deunte Heath, Nate Jones, Charlie Leesman, Jhan Marinez, Nestor Molina, Brian Omogrosso, Jose Quintana, Andre Rienzo, Santos Rodriguez, Hector Santiago, Leyson Septimo and Donnie Veal; catchers Tyler Flowers, Hector Gimenez and Josh Phegley; infielders Brent Morel and Angel Sanchez; and outfielders Jordan Danks, Jared Mitchell and Blake Tekotte.
All members of the 40-man roster are signed for 2013.
Jordan Danks' injury opens doors for others
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jordan Danks will be out of action for a few days after complaining of feeling something in his right elbow. An MRI came back negative, and manager Robin Ventura classified it as more of a strain.
Danks' inactivity, along with Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios participating in the World Baseball Classic, means more Cactus League time for some of the up-and-coming young outfielders in the system.
"It gives guys a little opportunity to step up and play, and you never know what's going to happen," Ventura said. "Some younger guys have a little more playing time for a while."
Third to first
• The starting lineup for Saturday's Cactus League opener features the expected Opening Day starting lineup, minus Jeff Keppinger at third base. Brent Morel gets the start and will hit second.
• Manager Robin Ventura is "very interested" in seeing Adam Dunn's more aggressive approach at the plate during Cactus League action.
"It just gives him a better chance to make contact more often," Ventura said. "Getting into two-strike counts, it's something that we shouldn't be worried about, but again, you are passing over some pitches that you should probably be aggressive with. That's the idea of him being aggressive early or not being so picky on those pitches."
• Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Madison Bumgarner are the first three starters the White Sox are scheduled to face.
• The White Sox have included players' Twitter handles in their 2013 media guide.