Johnson optioned, Danish sent to Minors camp

Johnson optioned, Danish sent to Minors camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Mat Latos joined the White Sox on a one-year, $3 million deal, the team automatically increased its depth in the starting rotation.

Latos' addition also most likely meant a start to the season for Erik Johnson at Triple-A Charlotte. That possibility became official on Monday, when Johnson was optioned there as part of three moves.

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper admitted that Johnson's fastball command could have been better over two spring starts. But Cooper had nothing but plusses to rattle off otherwise for the pitcher's overall effort.

"He dug himself a hole and he climbed out of it," said Cooper, referring to Johnson bouncing back from a dismal 2014 season to become the International League Pitcher of the Year in '15. "He not only climbed out of it but he threw the ball very, very well when he came up to the big leagues, and did a really nice job for us.

"We kind of got Erik back. The pluses down here was he's throwing his curve, slider and changeup for strikes. If something was to go wrong, he's going to go down and get himself ready. If something doesn't go right, we've got a guy we've seen him and what he's done. We have more depth now."

Scott Carroll, who pitched scoreless baseball over three innings against the Indians on Monday, and Jacob Turner remain in the mix for the last rotation opening or a possible long relief opportunity. But Latos seems to have the decided edge.

Having that personal sense of confidence back for Johnson, though, has the White Sox upbeat concerning his future.

"Unbelievably good," Cooper said of Johnson's demeanor. "I don't think he's been in a better place mentally."

"Right now, Erik needs to go down and get stretched out," manager Robin Ventura said. "If something happens even a little bit down the road ... We don't have enough innings for him up here [now]."

Right-hander Tyler Danish, the club's No. 11 No. 11 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, and infielder Steve Lombardozzi were reassigned to Minor League camp. With the moves, the White Sox have 40 players remaining in Major League camp: 19 pitchers, three catchers, 10 infielders and eight outfielders.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.