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John Danks needs to show more in his next three spring starts

Left-hander John Danks (huddling with catcher Tyler Flowers) has an ERA 11.74 three spring starts. | AP

Left-hander John Danks (huddling with catcher Tyler Flowers) has an ERA of 11.74 in three spring starts. | AP

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Updated: April 17, 2013 6:12AM



GLENDALE, Ariz. — White Sox pitching Don Cooper hasn’t ruled John Danks out of the starting rotation when camp breaks. But he knows the $65 million left-hander — who started on Opening Day last season but was derailed by a shoulder injury — must progress in his last three starts of the spring.

“John is aware if he’s ready he’s going to be with us,’’ Cooper said Friday. “If he’s not, we’ll give him more time. It’s not something we are going to rush or force feed. We can’t say, ‘Hey, we need you to throw harder.’ We have no control over that. All we have ­control over is going out there and having our sidelines and going out in the game. Heck, he threw 60 pitches yesterday so that’s a plus in itself. He’s climbing.

“Now, it’s going to be do we have enough time to get it all together for him to make his first start? That’s what we are kind of watching. Nobody knows the answer to that. But there are positives there for sure.’’

With velocity in the upper 80s, Danks’ fastball isn’t where it needs to be for him to be at the top of his game. He was roughed up for six runs on seven hits in 31/3 innings against the Angels on Thursday. His spring ERA is 11.74 over three starts. His ERAs the last two springs were 3.04 and 4.09.

“I knew going into this there were going to be ups and downs,’’ Cooper said. “He’s had a surgical procedure for crying out loud. But the pluses yesterday: He threw a few more strikes. His changeup was pretty good. He threw a couple of curve balls that were good. There’s progress there. Are we going to have enough time? Yeah, I think we have enough time if everything really works out well the rest of the time.’’

Cooper said the goal is to get Danks ready to pitch six innings.

“I’m not thinking we got to get him up to 115 pitches here,’’ Cooper said. “This is a post-surgery guy. Yesterday he went out there four times. Next time he’s going to try to get out there for five.

“Listen, he’s frustrated by the results but let’s face it, as we go, we’d like to see more results. But, dot, dot, dot, this is a guy that’s working to come back after surgery, somebody was digging in his arm, for crying out loud. But listen, we got time left and we’ll see.”

NOTES: Catcher Tyler Flowers is day-to-day with a stiff back. Flowers was a late scratch in favor of No. 2 catcher Hector Gimenez.

◆ Right-hander Jesse Crain, who has made one appearance this spring because of a groin strain, must feel like a marked man. Pitching in a game — against minor leaguers — for the first time since the injury, Crain was struck by a line drive on the right hip. He finished his inning and is OK, trainer Herm Schneider said.

◆ The Sox made four cuts, optioning right-handers Andre Rienzo and Jhan Marinez, catcher Josh Phegley and outfielder Jared Mitchell to AAA Charlotte, reducing their players in camp to 41. Mitchell, a first-round draft pick, had a good spring with a .387 average (12-for-31), three doubles, two triples, one homer, five RBI and nine runs scored.

WHITE SOX 15, CUBS 3

FOR THE RECORD: The Sox improved to 9-7-2 and to 2-0 against the Cubs this behind a grand slam by Dayan Viciedo and homers by Jordan Danks and Dewayne Wise. Viciedo also had a two-run double, giving him six RBI for the day, and Wise’s homer was his third of the spring. Paul Konerko raised his average to .394 with a single and a double. He also walked and scored two runs. “Guys are getting closer,’’ ­manager Robin Ventura said, “and you want them feeling pretty good swinging the bat. Even though we are missing [Alex] Rios and [Alejandro] De Aza [in the WBC], we are still swinging it pretty good.’’

ON THE MOUND: Gavin Floyd gave up a run on four hits over 51/3 innings, striking out five Cubs and walking none. ­“Everything was working pretty good today,” Floyd said. “I threw some changeups in there that were pretty good and I was using everything, so that’s a good place to be. Working both sides of the plate. It was fun.’’

TANK GOODNESS: Viciedo is batting .353 with 10 RBI. His home run off Scott Feldman was launched into deep right-center. The only out he made was on a liner to first base. “He’s special when he starts hitting the ball over there like that,’’ Ventura said. “We can keep him right there. That’s the fight you have with young guys he wants to pull everything. But somebody like him, he’s strong enough to take it over there and put up some big numbers.’’

UP THE MIDDLE: Second baseman Gordon Beckham and shortstop Alexei Ramirez made errors on ground balls, although Beckham got high-hopped on his.

ON DECK: Chris Sale faces the Oakland Athletics and Jarrod Parker at 3:05 p.m. (670-AM, mlb.com).



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