John Danks pitches well in return; Sox top Marlins in 11
BY TONI GINNETTI email@example.com May 24, 2013 11:52PM
Chicago White Sox starting pitcher John Danks. Friday May 24, 2013 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: June 26, 2013 6:22AM
Left-hander John Danks was good enough Friday in his first major-league game in more than a year to earn a quality start, if not the victory, as the White Sox edged the Miami Marlins 4-3 in 11 innings.
But allowing three runs and four hits, striking out five and walking none in six-plus innings might only be a precursor of better days ahead.
‘‘The John today on the mound may well be different from the John we see six months from now,’’ Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. ‘‘When you’re coming back from a shoulder surgery, it’s not always a linear process and it’s not always one where you have continual improvement over time.
‘‘He’s going to build up arm strength through further outings when he pitches competitively. I expect we’re going to see a pitcher who’s going to battle and keep us in games [and] give us a good chance to win right now. But he may well continue to improve over the next six months or a year.’’
Danks last pitched May 19, 2012, in an interleague game against the Cubs. Shoulder surgery and the long rehab process were as much a mental exercise as a physical one.
‘‘The DL is a lonely place,’’ said manager Robin Ventura, who endured his own long rehab years ago after dislocating his ankle in a spring-training game. ‘‘It’s tough. It’s miserable and everything that goes with that. To have him come back, with the emotions and keeping that in check, he did great.’’
Danks threw 76 pitches. The radar gun often seemed out of whack, registering his ‘‘speed’’ at 76 mph at times. He hit a batter, but the hit that hurt most was a home run by Derek Dietrich with Placido Polanco on base in the fourth. The other run he allowed came when the last batter he faced, Marcell Ozuna, led off the seventh with a double and eventually scored.
‘‘I should have thought more about that home-run pitch,’’ Danks said. ‘‘I should have had a better idea, but that’s on me. But all in all, it was a great first time out. The competitor in me wanted to go more, but I understand.
‘‘I felt great. From where I was in spring training to here, it’s night and day. I feel we’re at a good point. My stuff is coming, but I feel I have plenty to compete.’’
Ventura said he saw plenty of good things from Danks.
‘‘He was getting people to swing and miss,’’ Venutra said. ‘‘It was what you’d expect in him coming back.’’
Danks said he is willing to accept trading a once-impressive fastball for better command.
‘‘I’ve seen 93 mph fastballs get hit a long way,’’ he said. ‘‘I think if the rest of my career I can throw 87 to 90 and throw where I want to, I’ve learned location means a lot.’’
After falling behind 2-0, the Sox tied the score with two runs in the fifth, then gave Danks the lead when Paul Konerko singled home Alex Rios (18-game hitting streak) in the sixth.
Konerko began the winning rally with a one-out single. Pinch runner Tyler Greene took third on a single by Dayan Viceido and scored on a single by Jeff Keppinger.
The Sox had a chance to win when they loaded the bases in the 10th, but Rios grounded into a double play. First-base umpire Angel Hernandez ruled him out, even though replays showed he was safe.