GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The first one is out of the way and John Danks and the White Sox have plenty of reason to be proud.
After Monday’s start -- his first appearance since last June -- the White Sox starter continues to be pleased with the progress he has made since he underwent shoulder surgery on Aug. 6.
Danks, who went 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA in nine starts last season, said he should have a good idea where he stands when he wakes up Tuesday after a 35-pitch performance in a 6-2 win over the San Francisco Giants.
But he was satisfied with his first effort against an opponent since he pitched at Triple-A Charlotte on June 12.
Danks threw 27 strikes against San Francisco. He did yield a solo home run to Giants utility man Joaquin Arias, the second batter he faced, but only allowed one other hit in two-plus innings.
“This is the first hurdle,” Danks said. “Obviously the couple of weeks leading up to this was important. But the first game, get that out of the way and we really start focusing on the pitching side of things. Just excited to get back out there and see what kind of improvements I can make from now.”
Danks’ fastball velocity ranged between 85-89 mph. One scout rated the left-hander’s stuff as “fair” but the White Sox staff has said it isn’t as concerned with velocity or how the ball is moving at this point.
“Just getting into his pitch limit,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It was good to see him out there with something on it and seeing him excited all that work pays off.”
Pitching coach Don Cooper just hoped for a good pregame routine and bullpen from Danks. The fact he was able to get up and down three different times and had good command left Cooper feeling good.
“It couldn’t have went better,” Cooper said. “I wasn’t grading him today on command or stuff. To me it was all about feeling good before, during and then tomorrow. We got that and surprisingly good for the first time out, fastball and changeup command.”
All of the above qualify as great starting points when you consider Danks had surgery to repair a capsule tear and remove debris from the rotator cuff and biceps a little less than nine months ago.
Danks has had the same schedule as the other members of the White Sox projected rotation this spring and has had no setbacks. Just like the others, he has faced teammates in batting practice several times in the days leading up to Monday’s start. But unlike his fellow starters, Danks hadn’t been on the mound for a long time before Monday.
“I felt like I kept looking at the clock, waiting for the game to start,” Danks said. “But you know, I was glad to get back out there. Once I got on the field and started warming up, it felt a little more in my comfort zone. I feel good right now. The test will be tomorrow and the next day.”