White Sox lefty John Danks has to become more like Mark Buehrle
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com April 23, 2013 9:47PM
Chicago White Sox v Seattle Mariners
It’s possible John Danks will never be the same.
There’s a chance he’ll have to reinvent himself to be effective again.
That would call for a significant change for a left-hander who won a $65 million contract with the White Sox by getting hitters out by changing speeds but relying on more hard stuff — fastballs and cut fastballs in — than slower stuff as Mark Buehrle did for all those productive years with the Sox.
Pitching coach Don Cooper, talking about Danks’ comeback from shoulder surgery after the game against the Indians on Tuesday was called off by rain, used Buehrle as an example of how Danks might have to pitch when he gets to full strength, perhaps in a month.
“Well, we’ve got to be economical,’’ Cooper said. “We’ve got to command, change speeds. That’s pitching. John has got a good changeup. We have to tighten it up and undertake that when we get him in our hands. Right now, he’s still climbing. He knows.’’
Danks’ fastball during spring training was no better than in the mid-80s, below what he’s used to working with in the low 90s. He is up to around 88 in extended spring training, but he needs enough variance in his changeup and fastball to make both pitches effective. Danks had good command but not quite as good as Buehrle’s.
“Heck, we’ve had guys that do that [change speeds] at 95, and we had Buehrle do it at 83,’’ Cooper said. “So John is going to have to be a little bit more ‘pitchability’ like a Buehrle.
“Buehrle at one time was 88, 89 or 90. Then for the last three or four years, he was 82 or 83.
“But he still found a way to do it. That’s what I think [Danks] needs.’’
Danks was part thrower, part ‘‘pitcher,’’ but Cooper said he “needs a little bit more ‘pitchability’ in case his stuff doesn’t come back the way it was. We are still climbing.’’
Danks met with general manager Rick Hahn, manager Robin Ventura, trainer Herm Schneider and Cooper on Monday, hoping for a go-ahead to start a minor-league rehabilitation assignment but instead was told the best thing was at least one more start in extended spring training Friday.
“My stuff is getting better each time out,’’ Danks said.
On the plus side of this waiting game for Danks is that Dylan Axelrod has filled in effectively and starting pitching hasn’t been a problem for the 7-12 Sox.
“As a starting pitcher, it’s go out there and give us a chance to win the ballgame,’’ Cooper said. “I feel decent about what they’ve been doing.’’
NOTES: The rainout follows a home postponement against the Twins on Friday because of cold weather. No makeup date was announced for either one. The Indians return June 28-30 and Sept. 12-15. Fans should hold tickets and parking coupons for Tuesday’s game until a makeup date is determined.
◆ Playing bad baseball overall, riding a four-game losing streak and having hitters in slumps beg the question: Is a rainout a good thing?
“Everyone here would rather play,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘You can’t win a game unless you play.’’
◆ Viewing early extra rest as having a payoff down the road, the Sox are keeping the rotation in place as they did after Friday’s postponement.
After Jose Quintana on Wednesday, Chris Sale opens a four-game series Thursday against the Rays, followed by Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd and Axelrod.
◆ Ventura on the Sox’ poor play: “You’re beating yourself right now. You’re giving yourself a lot of opportunities, and playing just sloppy is what it is. That’s where guys get frustrated. We all get frustrated. When that gets cleaned up, you’re in games, and when that feeling turns, you’re going to win games. That’s a big boost of momentum once you get it.”