John Danks was in Chicago for Monday's Opening Day ceremonies, but soon he'll return to a warmer climate as he works his way back to the White Sox rotation from the 15-day disabled list.
The White Sox decided Danks wasn't ready to begin the 2013 season in their rotation, as the left-hander hadn't regained his velocity or command following shoulder surgery in August. Danks will pitch against Texas' Triple-A affiliate Thursday in Arizona, trading in sub-40 temperatures in Chicago for the warmer weather of the Phoenix area.
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"It makes more sense to be in good weather rather than try to find decent weather (here)," Danks said, wearing a knit cap and hooded sweatshirt.
He expects to pitch every five or six days while in Arizona. Once the White Sox feel he's accomplished what they want in Arizona, he'll move on to a minor-league rehab assignment. If that goes well, then Danks will return to the White Sox.
General manager Rick Hahn doesn't have a timetable for Danks' return, but stressed he wants the left-hander to take a bigger-picture approach to his recovery.
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"The fact that he’s traveled a tremendous amount of distance in a short period of time since having that surgery last August, the mere fact that it was possible that he could have broken with us is a tribute to how hard he worked and has been diligent with his rehab," Hahn explained. "We would love to have him. Unfortunately, when you are dealing with a pitcher’s shoulder, there isn’t a linear path from surgical date to return to the rotation."
For Danks, the bigger picture isn't all positive. Fresh off the heels of a five-year, $65 million extension signed in December of 2011, Danks started Opening Day for the White Sox last year in Texas. The contrast between the beginnings of last season and this season wasn't lost on the left-hander Monday.
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"I was thinking a year ago, I was getting ready to throw in this game, so a lot’s happened this past year," Danks said. "I’m ready to be healthy and put all this behind me and ready to be a part of the team again. This rehab process, in the grand scheme of things, I’m not that far out of surgery, but it feels like I’ve been out for years now. I’m going to do everything I can to get back as soon as possible, but in the grand scheme of things, we’re at the mercy of my shoulder. So when that’s ready, I’m ready."
For now, the White Sox want Danks to exercise patience. Saturday will mark the seven-month anniversary of his surgery, and while he's disappointed in beginning the season on the disabled list, Danks is happy with his decision to leave Arizona with the White Sox for Opening Day.
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"In talking to the doctors, they warned me to be patient. I don’t know what that means, it’s not in my blood," Danks said. "Just going to keep throwing every five days and hopefully be ready sooner rather than later. I’m excited to be here. It’s a good change of pace for me, being in Arizona, coming here to see this and just rekindles that fire a little bit."