ARLINGTON, Texas -- John Danks has a pretty good idea what Felipe Paulino is experiencing right now.
There’s a feeling of being healthy after surgery but not being all the way back. There’s seeing the velocities you’re used on the radar gun but knowing how you’re reaching them isn’t quite the same. It’s a place Danks hopes to never visit again and he feels bad that Paulino is there right now.
As of Saturday, Paulino, who had reconstructive elbow surgery in 2012 and shoulder surgery last September, is on the 15-day disabled list for an indeterminate period of time with right rotator cuff inflammation.
“It’s just one of those things that takes some time,” Danks said. “You’ve got to regain strength. I said all along there’s a difference between being able to throw 91 easy and forcing 91. It causes the ball to flatten out and you lose location. … You know you have it, but it’s how you’re getting it that makes all the difference in the world.”
Paulino has felt good throughout the spring.
He has been confident that he’s back on track after only pitching seven games in the minors in 2013 and not since May 2012 before that. The numbers indicate --- brooksbaseball.net had him at 97 mph on Friday --- Paulino is back too.
But it’s not all there, manager Robin Ventura said. That and a missed side session earlier this week made the White Sox decision to place Paulino on the DL easier. Ventura said Paulino didn’t pitch his side session on Wednesday and wasn’t available to pitch in relief in a 14-inning game that night.
“There’s stuff there that you like,” Ventura said. “John had that too last year. Every once in a while he would pop one where you’d think, ‘OK, now he’s feeling better.’ It’s the consistency of being able to do it. At this level, guys aren’t concerned if you can only do it every 25 pitches. It’s about being consistent and being able to do it over and over again.”
The only thing that repeatedly happened during Paulino’s most recent starts was location mistakes and hitters who punished them. Through four starts, Paulino had an 11.29 ERA with 35 hits and 12 walks over 18 1/3 innings. Between the rough results and recent soreness, Paulino is welcoming a chance to rest and then rehab in the minor leagues as he tries to regain form.
“I try to fight with this,” Paulino said. “I can’t pitch or function right now. It started bothering me more and more and more. I just tried to maybe a little rest right now. And I’m thinking it will be better for me to rest right now.”
Paulino remains confident. He knows he has more work to do on a long road back from his two surgeries and he’s willing to put in the work. Danks and Paulino’s White Sox teammates have seen the work the right-hander has put in. They know he has the desire to be successful once again.
But Danks wants to encourage Paulino to have patience with the process because he knows how this all plays out.
“You’re just physically not able to make the ball do what you want it to do,” Danks said. “It’s something you’ve done your whole life. I remember coming back and literally having to teach myself how to throw again. It’s hard. It’s hard to watch a good teammate go through something like that and he’ll get back to where he expects to be. It just takes time. … If I have one message to him, ‘It’ll get better.’ I’m living proof of that.”