White Sox GM talks division title, not wild card

CHICAGO – Erase any thoughts of the White Sox turning into sellers in the final week before the July 31 trade deadline.

Despite the Sox dropping eight of their past 12 games and falling from first place to one game behind the division-leading Detroit Tigers, general manager Ken Williams put the kibosh on abandoning their all-in approach.

“Oh, no, this team’s got some resiliency,” Williams said. “These guys are still grinding it out and they need to maybe loosen up, lighten up on themselves, and recognize what they’ve accomplished up to this point and have a little fun.”

A second wild card in each league has depleted the number of trade partners. Only 31⁄2 games separate 12 teams in the wild-card races. Combined with the division leaders, nearly two-thirds of major league teams are in the playoff hunt.

“I’m not thinking about the wild card,” Williams said. “We’re thinking about trying to win the American League Central Division. The only time I think about that is when there are more teams that believe that they are capable of slipping into the playoffs via the wild card, which means there are less players available on the trade market.”

A baseball source indicated the Sox were unhappy they were not informed of Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki’s availability before Seattle traded him to the New York Yankees. The Sox’s interest in the 38-year-old Suzuki was surprising given they have no open spots in the outfield with Dayan Viciedo, Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios entrenched in the starting lineup since Opening Day.

The agitation over potentially missing out on Suzuki reaffirms the Sox’s bid to remain aggressive in the final week before the July 31 trade deadline. If the Sox add another piece, they will target a pitcher, but only if he’s an impact arm. Williams said he will not rule out acquiring an NL pitcher without experience in the AL as long as his repertoire fits in a “monster” league.

“I don’t know what the probability is of us doing something impactfully,” Williams said. “We think that we have added a couple of pieces that will be impactful for the next couple of months as is. Whether or not we can do something else, I don’t know.

“If it’s not an impact type player we don’t want to disrupt what we’ve got going on and the guys that have gotten you to this point.”

The Sox believe there is no point in pursuing marginal talent. Ideally, Williams said, starting pitcher John Danks will continue his progression back from a shoulder injury. Danks, who has been on the disabled list since May 24, is expected to throw a side session today. He has not experienced any soreness in his left shoulder despite 85 tosses a day from as many as 120 feet.

The Sox hope Danks begins a spring training-type regimen by early August while eyeing a return to the rotation at the end of August in a best-case scenario. In nine starts this season, Danks owns a 3-4 record and 5.70 ERA, the highest of his six-year career.

“If we are in it at that point, and we definitely expect to be, then we’ve got a guy here that will be fresh and impactful in his own right,” Williams said of Danks. “Doing something that is going to take away from this club to accomplish that impactful move right is not going to happen.”

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