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Sox’ Danks wants to prove he’s worth the money

John Danks

John Danks

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FriDAY

TWINS AT WHITE SOX

The facts: Game 1, 1:10 p.m., CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM; Game 2, 7:10 p.m., CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.

The starters: Game 1, Kyle Gibson (2-3, 6.69 ERA) vs. John Danks (2-9, 4.52); Game 2, Liam Hendriks (0-1, 4.66) vs. Charlie Leesman (0-0, 0.00).

The rest of the series

Saturday: 3:05 p.m. Ch. 32, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Mike Pelfrey (4-9, 5.23) vs. Andre Rienzo (0-0, 1.38).

Sunday: 1:10 p.m. CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Kevin Correia (7-8, 4.84) vs. Jose Quintana (6-3, 3.51)

Updated: September 10, 2013 6:27AM



John Danks celebrated an anniversary this week, and it had a bittersweet feel about it.

It was one year ago Wednesday that Danks had surgery on his left shoulder, an event that brought him to his lowest low within the same year of experiencing a high of highs.

Danks had signed a five-year, $65 million contract the previous offseason. It was big money for the 28-year-old Texan who earned it with consistently good performances from 2008 through 2010. That he signed it after going 8-12 with a 4.33 ERA over 1701/3 innings in 2011 made some wonder about the cost of the deal to the Sox, but it was a market-value deal.

And then Danks got hurt.

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me when I got hurt,’’ Danks said of not living up to the contract because of the injury. “I was in the first year of the deal, with all the excitement and big expectations, and then the rug gets pulled out from under me.’’

Danks was the Opening Day starter in 2012, but he wasn’t really right all year. He pitched in nine games before undergoing an arthroscopic procedure to repair a capsular tear and minor debridement of the rotator cuff and biceps in the shoulder.

After starting the season on a minor-league rehab assignment, Danks has made 14 starts, posting a decent 4.52 ERA. His record is 2-9 going into his start Friday against the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field, a byproduct of poor run ­support.

Danks knows the investment made by the Sox doesn’t look so good now. But give him time to make it right. He has that, with the next three years left on the contract.

“My grade on this deal would obviously be an F,’’ he said. “But you could fight for an incomplete. Luckily, I’ll have three more years healthy and at full strength, and I’m planning to make up for lost time in those three years.

“I’d like my results to be better, but I feel like we’re making the right strides and going in the right direction. I fully anticipate getting back to where I was and maybe a little better.’’

While Danks hasn’t given up on getting his 93-94-mph fastball back, pitching coach Don Cooper sees him learning to pitch better a few ticks below.

“I’m still hopeful it will come back,’’ Danks said. “Where I’m at now, I can live with that. It’s not far off from where I was, anyway. It’s more important to locate 88 than randomly throw 94 in there.’’

The odd thing about Danks’ command is that his walks are down, but his control in the strike zone has been inconsistent. That’s where he gets hurt. The good thing, though, is that his shoulder doesn’t hurt. Easing up on him slightly in September has been discussed, but Danks said he needs to pitch every fifth day to build endurance.

“It feels great,’’ he said of the shoulder. “Especially compared to what it felt like before surgery. I’m doing all the throwing in between. That’s been my biggest positive, just how good I feel day to day. Because of that, I’m able to get my work in and parlay that into ­getting back to where I was.’’

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CST_soxvan



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