The White Sox begin the 2013 season as a playoff contender in the minds of really and truly one group of people.

And that's the White Sox themselves.

It's not that the team has been classified as second tier. It's more about the 2013 White Sox flying under the radar, a place they seemingly stand at this time every year aside from the 2006 Spring Training following their 2005 World Series title.

"We know collectively as a group in here we got a team that can make a push for it," said White Sox pitcher Chris Sale, who makes his first career Opening Day start on April 1 at home against the Royals after a 17-win, 192-strikeout starting debut in 2012. "We believe in ourselves, and we really don't need anyone else."

"Same thing every year," said White Sox starting pitcher John Danks of the mid-level expectations surrounding his team. "I don't want to say we prefer one way or the other, but we kind of like the underdog role, I guess. It takes some pressure off of us and allows us to go play ball."

For the White Sox to push themselves above the radar in terms of American League Central title contention, a healthy Danks will be crucial to that endeavor. Danks is coming off of Aug. 6 arthroscopic season-ending surgery on his left shoulder but had hoped to be part of the starting rotation from the outset after a long and successful rehab process.

Danks feels fine, which is the major positive out of this situation. He just isn't ready, as White Sox manager Robin Ventura explained, with Danks' velocity and command not in the needed area to compete. So Danks starts on the disabled list, with Dylan Axelrod assuming the fifth starter's spot for potentially the season's first month.