John Danks might not be very superstitious, but he clearly believes in the power of the jinx.
As soon as the White Sox left-hander found out about his 6-0 career record against the Royals, he laughed in a reaction of mock anger and told newly arrived long man Jake Petricka to be ready around the third inning of Saturday's game at Kauffman Stadium.
Danks, who makes his 2014 debut during the middle game of this three-game weekend set, isn't the only starter possessing opposition dominance. Bruce Chen, dubbed "Cy Chen" by colorful White Sox play-by-play television announcer Ken 'Hawk' Harrelson, brings with him a 7-2 record against the White Sox since 2011.
Chen also will be making his season debut.
"They're in our division and we face them a lot so we get a chance to see them at lot," Chen said. "It's one of those things that I've been doing well against them, but this year, they're kind of like a different team -- [Jose] Abreu, [Avisail)] Garcia, [Marcus] Semien, [Adam] Eaton. They have a different team, and I'm just glad I'm able to do well against a team in our division because that really helps us a lot."
It should be a different looking Danks on the mound in comparison to his 4-14 showing with a 4.75 ERA last season. Danks was working his way back from season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery coming in the previous August, and at 20 months removed from that procedure, Danks now has greater arm strength and the return of his cutter.
After allowing 28 homers in 138 1/3 innings in 2013, Danks' focus against the Royals and every other team is limiting the long ball.
"Keep the ball in the ballpark. That's what hurt me a lot last year," Danks said. "Try to keep the walks where they were and keep the ball in the ballpark. I think the cutter getting back to where I think I can use it a little more aggressively helps. Just trying not to hurt myself. If I do give up a homer, make it a solo shot."
"He's got a good changeup, a good little cutter now," said Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, who is 6-for-32 with one RBI against Danks. "He's been gone a while, had some injuries. I've played against John a long time and he's always been tough."
Butler acknowledges that some of Danks' perfect record and 2.47 ERA against the American League Central rivals over 13 starts is coincidence or the Royals catching him on the wrong day. Danks also understands that while Chen is facing a different looking White Sox team, he also will be facing a talented Royals lineup with playoff aspirations this season.
"Those quote rebuilds, if you will, are a lot easier when you have players like that," Danks said. "We feel like we are, we have some young good talent too. The Royals have certainly done it right. They have pretty good pitching, a great bullpen, and obviously their lineup is not easy."
White Sox: Eaton won't change
General manager Rick Hahn quipped recently that his biggest concern with leadoff man and center fielder Adam Eaton is not having him run through a wall trying to catch a fly ball. Three days later, and there was Eaton crashing into the center-field wall to take extra bases away from Oswaldo Arcia on Thursday, and then sliding into the wall in an attempt to snare Arcia's ninth inning triple.
Eaton emerged healthy from the wall encounters, but doesn't intend to temper his all-out, grinder-like attitude when trying to help pick up White Sox victories.
"You have to try to make the play to the best of your ability. Team is always first," Eaton said. "I think it's an easy answer. I don't know. It's not even a question for me."
There never has been a time when Eaton can remember his hard-nosed play leading directly to injury.
"Not yet. No, You just have to know how to run into them, I guess," Eaton said. "You have to protect yourself with your legs. You don't want to jam a shoulder or anything like that. That wall was pretty soft."
Royals: Warmer weather ahead
As the teams reported to Kauffman Stadium on Friday, it was about 40 degrees with a wind howling across the parking lot. That was a switch from when the Royals got off their plane on Thursday in downtown Kansas City after a rainout at Detroit.
"We'd much rather have what we had when we landed and it was 70 degrees. But when it's windy and cool ... you just go play the game," manager Ned Yost said.
Although the stadium flags were starch stiff out from right field on Friday, Yost said it was difficult to predict the in-game vagaries of the wind.
"Depending on where it hits the stadium, it makes it carry more or carry less -- sometimes in the opposite direction from the way the wind is blowing," he said.
A warming trend was ahead for the last two games of the series on Saturday and Sunday afternoons -- sunny and temperatures in the low- to mid-60s.
• The Royals have one less open date in June. Thursday's rainout at Detroit was rescheduled for what had been an off-day, June 19, at Comerica Park. That is slated to be the fourth game of the series.
• Chen's career total of 80 victories is just two shy of Mariano Rivera's record for a Panamanian-born pitcher. Chen's one career save, however, puts him 651 behind the Yankees' legend.
• White Sox manager Ventura indicated catcher Adrian Nieto might get his first Major League start on Saturday. Nieto and Danks worked well together during Spring Training.