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White Sox pitcher John Danks roughed up by Reds; trip to minors likely

John Danks

John Danks

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. — With each passing start, John Danks looks like he’ll open the season pitching for Class AAA Charlotte, not for the White Sox as he had optimistically aimed for after his first side sessions of spring training.

You couldn’t blame Danks for wishing for the best. His surgically repaired shoulder felt good. He’s just not getting outs, so he’s obviously a ways away from being ready.

Danks had his worst outing of the spring Tuesday, and it’s apparent the Sox’ 2012 Opening Day lefty needs time to build up arm strength and get a better feel for his pitches before he takes the mound in 2013. Left-hander Hector Santiago is looking like a good bet to open the season as the fifth starter in the rotation.

“I don’t really know what to say,’’ Danks said after getting tagged for 10 runs on 11 hits Tuesday in the Cincinnati Reds’ 10-6 victory. “I don’t remember the last time, or if ever, I’ve given up 10 runs. It hurts your feelings a little bit, I guess.’’

Reds hitters were 11-for-20 against Danks (16.34 ERA), whose starts have grown progressively worse this spring. His fourth one Tuesday lasted 31/3 innings, and Danks did not strike out a batter while walking two and allowing homers to the last two batters he faced — Chris Heisey and Jay Bruce.

No strikeouts, despite being in favorable two-strike counts on two or three occasions, are an indication of where Danks’ stuff is. He admitted that himself.

“Physically, I feel OK,’’ he said. “I felt good enough to throw today so I’m not going to use that as an excuse. It’s just one of those days where nothing would go right. I felt like when I’d make a good pitch it would get hit and certainly when I’d make a bad pitch they got hit.’’

Danks gave up a run in two innings against the Giants his first start, allowed four runs on seven hits over 21/3 against the Diamondbacks in his second and six runs on seven hits over 31/3 against the Angels last Thursday.

The only good thing about Tuesday’s outing was the pitch count of 82, which stretches Danks out on course to start in early April. Unless his velocity gets up to speed, that won’t happen.

“I’m not putting a time on anything,’’ said Danks, who early in camp had said he fully expected to break camp with the team. “It’s not my decision to make. I’ve just got to go out there and keep on working hard and continue to do what I’m doing. I feel like physically I’m making strides. Obviously, the results haven’t been there.’’

Santiago, who opened the 2012 season as the surprise closer, eventually went back to the minors to get stretched out as a starter. When he returned, he went 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA over 191/3 innings in four starts.

If Santiago opens as a starter, Dylan Axelrod could make the team as the long reliever unless Axelrod gets the starts.

With off days on the schedule April 2 and 8, the Sox could go through two turns of the rotation with four starters, giving each a four-day rest. They also like utilizing the extra days, though, for the long-term purpose of keeping their starters fresh.

Manager Robin Ventura wouldn’t speculate on that, but said he’s comfortable with short-term options for Danks.

“That’s something that comes into the equation but you talk to [Danks] first,’’ Ventura said. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow and you assess from there. The window is closing, though. It’s getting pretty tight.’’

A cheer-up talk is probably in order as well.

“It’s pretty frustrating,’’ Danks said. “I’ll try to keep it PG. I didn’t have fun today, if that’s what you’re asking. I didn’t have too much fun today.’’

Reds 10, White Sox 6

FOR THE RECORD: The White Sox fell to 10-9-3 as John Danks was roughed up for 10 runs on 11 hits over 31/3 innings. While Danks looked far from ready for April, relievers Matt Thornton, Addison Reed, Matt Lindstrom (0.00 ERA) and Donnie Veal each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, allowing one hit between them (Veal).

DEEP THOUGHTS: Adam Dunn hit his third homer of the spring and probably his longest, an estimated 450-foot shot to center field off Homer Bailey with two runners on in the first. Gordon Beckham hit his second homer of the spring. Dunn also singled and had four RBI.

OUCH: Dayan Viciedo left with a cramp in his right quad after roping a triple off the right field wall. It’s not believed to be serious.

HEALING: Jeff Keppinger, who played in the field for the first time since March 9 because of a sore right shoulder, started at third base. He walked and singled twice in three plate appearances. Tyler Flowers caught six innings and hit his fourth double, tying him with Alexei Ramirez for the team lead.

STILL HOT: Jordan Danks probably will start the season in Class AAA but his hot streak is worth noting. His single in two at-bats gave him 10 hits over his last 14 at-bats.

BACK SOON: Alejandro De Aza (Dominican Republic) and Alex Rios (Puerto Rico), who squared off in the World Baseball Classic championship game Tuesday, are expected to rejoin the Sox by Thursday.

ON DECK: Gavin Floyd is matched against Brandon McCarthy in Glendale at 3:05 p.m. (audio at mlb.com).

Daryl Van Schouwen



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