White Sox 9, Athletics 5

Ben Sheets still looks like a pitcher who hasn’t worked at the
big league level in nearly a year and a half.

His command isn’t quite there and his fastball velocity is
slightly down. He is unfazed, because Sheets has never been one to
post big spring numbers.

Oakland’s new $10 million ace still considered his short outing
in a 9-5 loss Wednesday to the Chicago White Sox a step in the
right direction. He regularly threw his change-up.

Sheets, who missed all of 2009 recovering from elbow surgery,
allowed six runs – five earned – on five hits with a walk in 2 2-3
innings of his second spring start.

“I’m trying to mow them down. It just don’t go down,” Sheets
said. “I’m not trying to give up five or six runs. It’s March 10
and you have bad days. I don’t think it’s outside the ordinary. I
think this is a normal spring training for me. I haven’t had much
success down here. I just try and get better every time out. I’m
definitely not result-oriented.”

The Athletics got a big lift from their other comeback kid: Eric
Chavez.

He hit his first two home runs of the spring, including a
two-run shot in the first off winning pitcher Daniel Hudson and
then a sixth-inning solo drive.

Chavez, a converted first baseman and six-time Gold Glover at
third, was forced to switch positions following five operations
since Sept. 5, 2007. Two of those were microdiscectomy surgeries in
different spots in his back, and he also has undergone three
shoulder surgeries.

So, his powerful swings were a positive sign to say the least.
Even if they don’t really count. For Chavez, he knows he still has
it in him.

He is still in pain and fears what might happen next, the
setback that could derail his career for good.

“I’m completely confident,” he said. “I just never know
what’s in store for tomorrow. I’m just at peace with waking up
every day coming to the field and enjoying myself, and I’m in no
position to start predicting what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Chavez appeared in only eight games in 2009. He had one hit in
his last 22 at-bats and was in an 0-for-15 stretch. He hit .100
with one RBI. That’s after he played in only 23 games in 2008, and
90 in ’07.

Manager Bob Geren said Chavez looked loose and strong during
perhaps his best batting practice yet since the team arrived in the
desert last month.

White Sox right fielder Jordan Danks made a pretty diving catch
on Rajai Davis’ hard liner leading off the fifth, giving manager
Ozzie Guillen plenty to think about when it comes to where to send
the club’s top-five prospect. He might be headed for a promotion to
Triple-A Charlotte – and his defense already is considered good
enough to be at the major-league level.

He went 1 for 2 with a walk Wednesday and scored a run, and also
stung the ball on a lineout to left in the fourth. Danks is the
brother of Sox starting pitcher John Danks.

“Jordan has really really impressed us a lot. He’s pretty
special,” Guillen said. “He’s got a chance to be in the big
leagues and play. This kid has good at-bats, good base-running.
Maybe the best outfielder we have in our minor league system.

“If we need somebody down from the minor leagues, I think this
kid is one we’ll really take a look at. He’s not going to be
embarrassed. He knows how to play. He’s a tremendous defensive
player.”

NOTES: Andruw Jones tripled off Sheets in the first. Jones,
Brent Morel and A.J. Pierzynski all drove in two runs. … New
Oakland CF Coco Crisp is nursing a strained left hamstring and is
expected to be sidelined for at least a few days. … The A’s shut
down RHP Joey Devine for about a week because of elbow soreness and
forearm tendinitis. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery last
April and is still considered ahead of schedule.