In a less-than-shocking twist late Wednesday, the White Sox named John Danks as the starting pitcher for their next game.
Danks, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 19, 2012 after he had season-ending shoulder surgery last Aug. 6, is set to pitch Friday night when the host White Sox open a three-game series against the Miami Marlins.
The left-hander will come off the 15-day disabled list and take the place of reliever Donnie Veal, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after Wednesday’s loss. Danks has made four minor-league rehab starts after he spent the first month of the season in extended spring training.
“I’m excited,” Danks said. “It’s been a long time, a long recovery. You know, to get back here and feel like a part of the team, feel like a big leaguer again, now I got to go out there and try to win us a ballgame.”
Danks has had no physical hiccups in a rehab process that began in late October. He actually began his throwing program a few days early and never needed to skip a bullpen session once he started to throw off a mound in January.
Although Danks’ velocity wasn’t back to its previous speeds in spring training, the White Sox were pleased with how he continued to progress, less than a year removed from surgery. Late in March they opted to keep Danks in extended spring training so he could continue to work on building arm strength.
The team feels Danks has crossed off every checkmark on the list.
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“He’s ready to go,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s one of those things we’ve been waiting for. It wasn’t there in spring training, but he says he’s ready to go and I trust him.”
The only red flag in Danks’ recovery has been his control in the minors.
In four starts between Double-A Birmingham and Charlotte, Danks walked 13 batters and hit two more in 22 2/3 innings. Even so, Danks went 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA.
Both Ventura and Danks said the pitcher isn’t returning to the mound just to put him back out there. Ventura wouldn’t start Danks out there if he couldn’t pitch six innings.
The pitcher said he has also set his own expectations high.
“I’m not going to go out there just for the sake of me going out there and getting back,” Danks said. “This is only about wins up here. So, yeah, I’m putting the same kind of pressure on myself and the same kind of expectations I had before I got hurt.”