Frustrated Danks on early struggles: It sucks

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Frustrated Danks on early struggles: It sucks

John Danks is in the first year of a 65 million deal that's paying him to be the ace of the White Sox. He's under team control through 2016, so one bad month shouldn't cast a pall over the next five seasons.

But April has been cruel to Danks, who hasn't come close to pitching like the ace the White Sox expected. The lefty again struggled with control Friday night against Boston, walking four and allowing seven runs in 5 23 innings as the White Sox fell to the Red Sox 10-3 at a chilly U.S. Cellular Field.

"I'm not okay with it at all. I stole two wins and pitched like crap the other ones," a frustrated Danks said of his start to the season after the game. "That's way too inconsistent. That's the deal."

Danks was quick to dismiss the notion that the 40-degree temperatures and stiff winds played a part in his rough outing.

"The Red Sox had to play in it too. That's just an excuse," Danks said. "I'm not gonna use that. Daniel Bard pitched his ass off today in that weather. Part of the game. We're up here in Chicago, we know it's going to be cold early in the season, and more often than not that'll be advantage pitcher. And it sure as hell wasn't tonight.

"You gotta make pitches, you gotta do your job and I didn't do it. That's the part that stinks."

After not allowing a walk on Opening Day in Texas, Danks has issued 15 free passes in 24 13 innings over his last four starts. Equally as concerning, he's only struck out 16 and allowed four home runs. And his ERA has ballooned to 6.23.

"Walks have bit me in the ass all year to this point," Danks sighed. "It's definitely something we're going to have to focus on, that and keeping the ball in the ballpark. It's frustrating, it sucks. It sucks to go out there and get your hat handed to you. We're all competitive, we don't want that to happen, and what are you gonna do? Try to be ready for the next one."

Danks isn't a stranger to slow starts, though. Through the end of May last season, Danks had a 5.25 ERA with 25 walks, 46 strikeouts and 11 home runs allowed in 70 13 innings. Eventually, Danks turned things around -- he had a 3.69 ERA with 21 walks, 89 strikeouts and 8 home runs in 16 starts after Memorial Day.

But this season's struggles have been more pronounced. Danks' changeup hasn't been up to par, as he's either struggled throwing it for strikes, struggled commanding it in the zone or both. He's thrown plenty of good ones -- about one in every five has resulted in a swing and miss -- but the bad ones have hurt.

Without a good changeup, Danks is essentially a two-pitch pitcher, featuring only a fastball and cutter. And since he's not Mariano Rivera, he's had issues.

"It was hit or miss. When I was able to keep it down, and really try to stay on top of it, it was good," Danks said. "But, you know, just struggled with kind of everything. That's the frustrating part of it, I felt good, I felt like I had good enough stuff to give us a chance to win and didn't. Wasn't able to do it."

There were stretches where Danks looked like a 65 million pitcher Friday night. He retired 10 in a row in the middle innings, but that stretch of success was sandwiched between a bevy of walks and hits.

Danks knows he's only made five starts. There's plenty of time for him to turn things around, and he remains hopeful -- even if he doesn't quite know why he's run into this maddening malaise.

"It's just been inconsistent, just gotta keep working on it and -- I don't know," Danks shrugged. "We're going to keep working at it. I know I have it in me, and hopefully starting next outing we'll get on the right track."

Carlos Rodon plays catch but timeline for return still uncertain

Carlos Rodon plays catch but timeline for return still uncertain

Carlos Rodon played catch in front of Don Cooper on Monday afternoon but only added to the intrigue surrounding his health when he declined to talk to the media.

On the 10-day disabled list with a biceps strain, the White Sox said Rodon continues to make progress in his rehab program. Cooper said the third-year pitcher felt and looked fine as he played catch in left field. But neither he nor manager Rick Renteria offered many more details on when Rodon may return or even when he could throw off a mound.

"He looked like he played catch good," Cooper said. "His throwing program is progressing. He felt fine. He threw the ball fine. That's kind of where we are at. He threw fine and move on to the next."

Rodon is in town for several days to be observed by the White Sox. On Friday, general manager Rick Hahn described the visit as a "routine follow-up visit." But other than making sure they're cautious with Rodon, the club hasn't been able to offer a specific timetable for their prized pitcher.

"I can't tell you in detail what the program is," Renteria said. "I know it involves throwing and making sure he's getting treatments and making sure it's taken care of, the issue he had with his biceps. We know it's getting better."

But the improvement hasn't made the situation any easier to deal with. When they started him on a delayed program this spring, the White Sox had Rodon pegged for 33 starts and 200 innings. As of now, there's no certainty when he'll make his first turn and the calendar is nearing May.

"He's frustrated," Cooper said. "He wants to get through this, through all of it. We are just there to try to make sure he's doing things right and there's progression.

"Well, I mean we've already taken a lot of caution. He's important to us now and in the future. We wouldn't rush with him or anybody."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can Bulls bounce back against Celtics?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can Bulls bounce back against Celtics?

In the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, CSN's David Kaplan is joined by the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh and the Chicago Sun-Times' Adam Jahns to discuss the Bulls falling to a 2-2 series tie with the Celtics.

The guys predict how the first-round playoff series will end and talk about how Isaiah Canaan will fare as the starting point guard in Game 5.

Then, the panel discusses whether Matt Davidson should be in the White Sox lineup more and who will still be playing on the South Side when the White Sox rebuild is done.

Finally, the panel discusses a couple of contract extensions for Pat Fitzgerald and Chris Collins at Northwestern.

Take a listen to the episode below: