Danks blanks: White Sox lefty throws five scoreless innings vs. Rangers
By Mark Potash Staff Reporter March 11, 2014 10:21PM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — John Danks didn’t look sharp. But he feels great.
After missing most of 2012 because of a shoulder injury and struggling through 2013 after recovering from surgery, that means everything to the White Sox left-hander, who turns 29 in April.
‘‘I’m excited; I’m like the kid in the clubhouse this year,’’ Danks said after allowing four hits, three walks and eight baserunners in five scoreless innings Tuesday against the Texas Rangers. ‘‘It makes you appreciate it, certainly. It’s been a long road to this point. We’re certainly not there. But I’m very pleased with where I’m at and excited about the season.’’
Danks was 4-14 with a 4.75 ERA in 22 starts last season.
‘‘It has been fun to be healthy and feel good,’’ he said, ‘‘and not worry about certain rehab things or being in the training room and just being able to focus on baseball. We get to [work] on the side in a couple of days and work on things rather than worrying about how the shoulder feels.’’
Danks has developed a more well-rounded repertoire of pitches during his recovery. It remains to be seen how effective it will be in the regular season. But he and manager Robin Ventura are encouraged. Danks has pitched eight scoreless innings this spring, allowing five hits, five walks and one hit batsman, with three strikeouts.
‘‘Location,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He’s stronger. I think he throws a little harder. Consistently, he can do that. That helps with his location, being able to place it where he wants. That’s going to be the biggest key. He has a better ability to do that than he has in probably the last year and a half.’’
Danks said he was most pleased with his cut fastball.
‘‘I feel like I have a better chance,’’ he said. ‘‘Last year, I would have had to pull a Houdini act on those and put some slow curveballs up there and tried to get some chases. I feel like I can go after guys a little more aggressively because I feel like I have better stuff. It’s a little sharper, got some movement on the fastball, and the cutter’s sharp.’’
Danks allowed at least one base runner in each inning. But three double plays helped bail him out without allowing a run.
He also picked off Jurickson Profar on a steal attempt in the third inning.
‘‘I’ve still got a lot [to work on],’’ Danks said. ‘‘First outing was good. This one, a little hit-or-miss. I had some good plays, some lucky plays behind me, but I’ll take that all the time. That’s baseball. It goes both ways. I’m not going to apologize for it.’’