SEATTLE -- White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper has stressed to John Danks if his stuff is down, his command needs to be better.
With that in mind, both Cooper and White Sox manager Robin Ventura praised Danks’ six-inning effort in a loss on Monday, calling it his best start of the season dating back to March. Cooper not only liked Danks’ strikes to balls ratio -- 70:34 pitches -- but the location of most pitches. Cooper has stressed to Danks, now 10 months removed from shoulder surgery, that until his velocity completely returns, he must keep his pitches down in the zone.
“When you’re down a little bit with stuff you have to be up a little bit with command,” Cooper said. “That’s what we’re shooting for. In the meanwhile continue to get stronger and continue to hold out the hope that in time, and I’m not saying it’s going to be this year, but maybe next year, we get more (velocity) back. But whether we get more back or not, he can still be an effective pitcher if the command of his pitches is there.”
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Danks hasn’t changed his style much but he admits he has adjusted his mindset after he allowed two homers in four innings at Wrigley Field on Wednesday.
“I’m going to go out there with what I have, try to stay within myself and throw the ball down in the zone,” Danks said. “I didn’t have great stuff (at Wrigley) and tried to make more than I had. When I do the ball comes up and usually gets hit pretty hard.”
Danks had the fewest mistake pitches of any of his starts on Monday. Raul Ibanez happened to run into one of those, a cut fastball left up in the zone, and hit it for a two-run homer. But compared with his first two outings, Cooper sees improvement and enough to believe Danks can win. While Danks’ mistakes weren’t hit against Miami in his first start, Cooper saw several and it has helped him convince the left-hander he needs to keep his pitches down.
“That got us on where are right now, continue to be down, command, all of that stuff,” Cooper said. “He’s got to be good at getting ahead. He’s got to have more information than he had in the past, knowing the guys that take, the guys that swing, because he’s going to have to pitch. … He has got to be a guy that’s prepared. Knowing what we’re doing, knowing all the information and trying to use that information as every little edge we can get to give us the edge on getting people out.”
No moping allowed
With his team in an offensive rut, Ventura switched the lineup around on Tuesday in hopes of mixing things up. Gordon Beckham will hit second and Alexei Ramirez drops to the seventh spot, though Ventura suspects he’ll return to the top of the lineup shortly. Ventura said he’s just trying to give the White Sox a spark. As for the upbeat nature of his clubhouse, and how players have handled their struggles, Ventura expects that to be there.
“If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, there’s not a spot for you in the lineup,” Ventura said. “It’s not easy for anybody, but it’s one of those that if you don’t have the attitude of coming in here, ready to play and get after it, then there’s bigger problems.”
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Sox hone in on first pick
Amateur scouting director Doug Laumann said Tuesday the club has whittled down its potential pool for its first-round pick to five or six players. The White Sox own the No. 17 pick in baseball’s amateur draft, which begins on Thursday night. Laumann said the club has surveyed many of the 16 teams with picks ahead and has a decent idea who will be available when their selection arrives.
“We know enough about the guys ahead of us,” Laumann said. “We are real confident one of the guys will remain available and we’ll get a guy we really like.”