Velocity hasn’t returned, but White Sox’ Danks not concerned
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org April 21, 2013 9:06PM
Don’t complain about the cold weather to left-hander John Danks. He was all smiles Sunday in the White Sox’ clubhouse, putting on his retro uniform and getting into the spirit of things.
‘‘I was ready to get out of Arizona,’’ Danks said. ‘‘Just sitting in a hotel room by yourself every day, it gets old. Just having a change of scenery.’’
Arizona’s extended spring training has been his confine for months as he continues to work his way back from shoulder surgery that ended his season after nine starts last year. The road back has been a long one, longer than he had hoped for but not necessarily what doctors expected.
This trip home is therapeutic — ‘‘I miss being around the guys,’’ Danks said — but it’s also procedural.
He’ll meet Monday with pitching coach Don Cooper, the trainers and likely general manager Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura. Danks, 27, will try to convince them he’s ready for a rehab assignment.
“I think I’m ready to go throw somewhere, and I’ll tell them that,’’ Danks said. ‘‘I think I’ve done everything I can do in Arizona, and I’m ready to get into a real game atmosphere.”
He has progressed in each outing. On Saturday, he threw six innings. But the process has been more gradual than he anticipated.
“In spring training, I was able to play catch and do what you kind of have to do, but it didn’t feel great playing catch,’’ he said. ‘‘The last few starts, it’s felt great between starts. I think that’s a good sign.’’
In January, Danks was optimistic about starting the season with the team.
‘‘We were being real aggressive with [planning for] the start of the season and trying to be back — and mostly that was my doing,’’ Danks said. ‘‘I don’t like sitting out.
‘‘I’m not caught off-guard. We watched Jake [Peavy] go through this a couple of years ago where he looked like he’d be ready and needed a little extra time. Things have worked out pretty good for him.’’
Danks is taking something else from Peavy — the notion of transforming from a power pitcher to one who knows ‘‘how to pitch.’’
‘‘I’m trying different things, different grips to see if I can make the ball do different things,’’ he said. ‘‘Coop and I have talked. I have to learn how to pitch now. There was a time where I was able to just rear back and try my luck. I’m going to have to learn how to pitch. Hopefully, everything will come back, and I’ll have the same arm strength and be able to pitch with some good stuff.”
The velocity on his fastball hasn’t returned.
‘‘Velocity probably is third in line in terms of importance,’’ Danks said. ‘‘You’ve got to be able to throw the ball where you want and make the ball do what you want before you worry about velocity.
‘‘It doesn’t hurt to have velocity. It widens that gap between the fastball and changeup, and the changeup’s a big pitch of mine.
‘‘Velocity might be a little more important to me than it would be to someone else, but still in the grand scheme of things, I’m not real, real worried about velocity as much as just being able to make the ball do what I want it to do and throw the ball where I want.”