White Sox pleased with John Danks' recovery

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White Sox pleased with John Danks' recovery

John Danks has plenty of work ahead, but the White Sox are pleased with how he has progressed thus far.

Five months after he had shoulder surgery to repair a capsule tear and remove debris in the rotator cuff and biceps, Danks, the teams opening day starter last season, has successfully completed the long-toss portion of his rehab.

Team trainer Herm Schneider said in a team-released video on Thursday that Danks, who went 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA in nine starts last season, hasnt had any glitches in his rehab program thus far. Danks began his long-toss program a few days ahead of the planned Nov. 1 start date and completed it late last month.

Johnnys doing extremely well, Schneider said. He did the entire long toss program and completed it without a glitch. Our philosophy is a slow climb, not peaks and valleys, just a slow climb, and thats exactly what he did. Nothing but progress all the way through and completed it without a flaw. Were extremely pleased.

Reflecting upon last season, Danks isnt quite as pleased with his output. The left-hander is cognizant of the fact big things are expected of him after he signed a five-year, 65-million extension in December 2011. So an injury-plagued season, one in which he exhausted every effort to rehab before his Aug. 6 surgery, isnt quite up to Danks standards.

I felt like I was a waste of money last year to put it lightly, Danks said. I didnt do my job. I hurt the team more than I helped the team and that bugs me a little bit, a lot of bit. I want to get back to being a guy that is counted on, thought to be able to take the ball every fifth day and give us a chance to win.

Danks -- who was 40-31 with a 3.61 ERA in 608 13 innings from 2008-10 -- sounds as if he has taken the motivation from the last two seasons and instilled it into his rehab program. Schneider said Danks has adhered to every detail of the plan, which the trainer said is somewhat aggressive in order to get the pitcher on the mound as quickly as possible. The team is hopeful Danks can contribute in the 2013 season, but hasnt set any dates.

Surgerys like 10 percent of fix and 90 of the fix is the rehab and the time you put into it, Schneider said. As were seeing with Derrick Rose, theyre being careful with him. Were being careful, but were still being somewhat aggressive to get him back throwing because the longer you stay away from it the harder it is to get back into the swing of things, especially with the rhythm of pitching.

Johnny has worked very hard (he has) been diligent on everything weve asked him to.

Without any previous rehab experiences, Danks said because hes in unfamiliar territory, he determines his status based on Schneiders reactions. Thus far those conversations have been positive, Danks said. He looks forward to spring training, which begins in just over one month. White Sox pitchers and catchers hold their first workout on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Ariz.

Hes pleased, Danks said. That makes me feel good about things. I know that Im not where I need to be by any means but Im definitely making huge improvements every week. Im looking forward to getting on a mound and before we know itll be spring training.

Slumping White Sox get huge boost after Miguel Gonzalez 'defended his ground'

Slumping White Sox get huge boost after Miguel Gonzalez 'defended his ground'

Every factor but one suggested there was no way Rick Renteria would remove Miguel Gonzalez in the seventh inning on Monday afternoon.

Of course, Gonzalez didn’t know that.

But even as he walked to the mound with two on and no outs in the seventh and Wrigley Field roaring, Renteria didn’t have any intention of pulling Gonzalez.

Trades and injuries have given the White Sox manager even less wiggle room with which to work than the one-run lead Gonzalez was trying to protect. As long he was convinced his pitcher was game, Renteria would stay with Gonzalez. Gonzalez acquiesced and soon thereafter the White Sox were on their way to their first victory since July 8. The White Sox topped the Cubs 3-1 and in doing so snapped a nine-game losing streak.

“I just went in there to reaffirm that we were thinking the same way,” Renteria said. “He was thinking the same way. It was kind of easy.

“He said ‘I got this.’ He defended his ground.”

[Such a mighty wallop: How does Matt Davidson's mammoth home run stack up?]

Even though he had a front-row seat for the conversation, catcher Kevan Smith had little understanding of what transpired. The rookie said Renteria and Gonzalez spoke entirely in Spanish after Jon Jay and Javier Baez singled to open the bottom of the seventh inning. Smith heard Renteria mention to Gonzalez that lefty David Holmberg was ready to face switch hitter Ian Happ. Beyond that, all Smith heard from Gonzalez was ‘bueno’ and ‘listo,’ and Renteria was headed back to the visiting dugout.

But you don’t have to be a linguist to decipher what issues the White Sox pitching staff faces after a trying month.

Prior to Gonzalez pitching into the eighth, the White Sox hadn’t had a starter complete seven innings since June 16. An already overworked bullpen has also had to deal with season-ending injuries to Zach Putnam, Nate Jones and top relief prospect Zack Burdi. And those issues have been even further compounded by the trades of Jose Quintana, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle in the past 12 days.

So even though Gonzalez was on the verge of facing the top of the Cubs order a fourth time, Renteria had to stick with him so he could save top relievers Dan Jennings and Anthony Swarzak for later.

“I said ‘Just give me the ball,’ ” Gonzalez said. “ ’I’m OK. I’m fine. I’m feeling OK.’ Just walked away and I was able to get out of that jam. That was a big one.”

Smith was also happy with the decision. He liked how Gonzalez — who threw strikes on 73 of 105 pitches — had competed. Smith thought Gonzalez had great stuff and heard positive reviews from opposing hitters.

“(Gonzalez) had it,” Smith said. “The guys were coming up to the plate saying this guy has got some stuff today. It was a big moment to kind of prove that he can be a long guy, especially late in the game like that. Big pressure situation. Obviously it was getting pretty rowdy, but he stayed composed and pitched his way out of it.”

First was a five-pitch strikeout of Happ that ended with a swinging strike on a curveball. Jason Heyward then popped out to shallow center for the second out. Kris Bryant worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases. But Gonzalez jumped ahead of Anthony Rizzo in the count 1-2 before he got the star first baseman to fly out deep to center to strand the bases loaded.

Gonzalez returned in the eighth and retired one more hitter before he exited after a Kyle Schwarber single. The effort was plenty for Renteria and the White Sox, who also wiggled out of jams in the eighth and ninth inning.

“Sometimes you just don't have any other option,” Renteria said. “You just have to do what you have to do. They had a really good idea of how they wanted to attack those guys. …

“Miggy did a really nice job.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Sox win game one of Crosstown Series

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Sox win game one of Crosstown Series

Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun Times), David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Ben Finfer (ESPN Radio) join Kap to go over the exciting first game between the White Sox and the Cubs.

Plus, the latest on trade rumors linking Justin Verlander and Alex Avila to the Cubs. Do the Cubs really need to make another move?

Finally, the guys discuss whether Kyrie Irving asking for a trade out of Cleveland is the dumbest career choice, ever.