DETROIT — Given his profession, it’s understandable why John Danks has a glass-half-empty view of his 2013 season.
The left-hander, who is only now 54 weeks removed from shoulder surgery, is frustrated by a season in which he went 4-14 with a 4.75 ERA in 22 starts.
Since he returned to the White Sox in May, Danks has insisted he’s in the major leagues to win, not to build up his arm strength or work his way back into form.
But while the results haven’t been there, even Danks can’t help but to admit there has been success this season.
Beginning with his rehab, Danks has been a model of consistency with 161 innings between the majors and minors.
“I would feel real good about things if I had had a little more success and the year had gone better,” Danks said. “In terms of health, if you had told me I would throw as many innings as I have and taken the ball every fifth day, I’d have taken that in a heartbeat. That’s part of the positives we’re taking from the year. It’s been a long road to get to this point. We’re not quite where we need to be, but given from where I was just in spring training to now, there have been leaps and bounds of improvement and I anticipate a lot more coming.”
Danks and the coaching staff are of the belief the veteran has more in the tank.
But seeing as he began to play catch last October and progressed steadily in an attempt to help compete in 2013, all parties are OK with an early end to the season.
“He’s done his work is how I look at it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Friday. “And now he needs to rest and get back his strength and go.”
Part of Danks’ frustration stems from lower fastball velocity.
Four seasons ago, Danks’ fastball averaged 91.7 mph per fangraphs.com. This season, it’s down to 89.3 mph. In order to gain some back, Danks admits he may have overexerted himself and sacrificed command to do so.
Being just a tad off hurt Danks at times this season as he surrendered 28 homers in 138 1/3 innings for the White Sox. But he’s hopeful the velocity comes free and easy as he gets further removed from surgery.
“I fully anticipate stuff to continue to improve,” Danks said. “Part of the problem was at times I was making myself throw 90, 92, whereas when I was healthy, it just came out and the ball had a little more life on it, and I was able to keep the ball down a little more consistently. It’s part of it. I know it’s still in there. I’m able to do it. And with a full offseason and the right throwing programs and stuff, I think we’ll get back to where I was, if not better.”
While his offseason plan calls for a little rest now, Danks said it won’t be long before he starts to again play catch. He and the club don’t want Danks — who has three years left on his contract — to lose much of the strength he has already built. So while he’ll take some time off next month — he is set to marry country singer Ashley Monroe on Oct. 24 — Danks plans to spend much of his offseason in Nashville, Tenn., where both Monroe and pitching coach Don Cooper reside.
“We’ve come this far and don’t want any setbacks,” Danks said. “I think the most important thing is I’m going to work out consistently and have a trainer. I’m going to be up in Nashville, so Coop and I will work together and that will be good. It’s going to be a fun offseason. I’m going to work hard and get back to where I was. It isn’t fun stinking, trust me.”