White Sox John Danks much stronger this spring than in '13

White Sox John Danks much stronger this spring than in '13
March 26, 2014, 6:30 pm
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — John Danks’ spring fittingly ended on a strong note on Wednesday afternoon.

In nearly every way imaginable the White Sox left-hander has felt far more competitive in the past month of games than he did at any time last spring. Now 18 months removed from shoulder surgery, Danks allowed three runs (one earned) and four hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 9-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds. He walked one and struck out five batters.

Now Danks will join his teammates as they head back to Chicago less than a year after he needed to stay in extended spring training to gain strength.

“I have a lot better chance now than I did then,” Danks said. “Stuff’s better. Command’s better. Confidence is better. You could go on down the list. I’m happy about where I’m at right now.”

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Danks ended exhibition play against the Reds for a second straight spring. Wednesday’s 102-pitch decidedly ended better than last season’s.

Last year on March 19, Danks allowed 10 earned runs and 11 hits with two walks and no strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings before the White Sox decided to have him open the season on the disabled list.

Danks finished spring 2014 with a 2.96 ERA. But perhaps more important, he completed 24 1/3 innings this spring compared to 11 in 2013.

“I feel like I can be a lot more aggressive with it,” Danks said. “I feel like I can reach back or throw a cutter and get a chance to get an out. It’s a lot closer to where I was than where I’ve been the last couple of years.”

[RELATED: Garcia, Semien make White Sox roster as Beckham heads for DL]

Other notes

— Jeff Keppinger will begin the season on the disabled list and is starting his rehab over, per general manager Rick Hahn.

“I’m certainly not counting on him at any point in the near future,” Hahn said. “We’ll have to see how he progresses.”

— The White Sox had a second instant-replay challenge denied even though replays appeared to show umpires missed the call. Leury Garcia was charged with an error for dropping a throw on a force play at second base, but replays appeared to show he was making the transfer when he dropped the ball. None of the last three replays involving the White Sox, two of which were challenged by the other team, were overturned even though evidence the calls were wrong appeared to be present.

— Adam Eaton went 4-for-5 with two runs, Leury Garcia had three hits, a walk and two runs and Avisail Garcia went 2-for-4 with a triple and a run. The White Sox finished with 15 hits. Marcus Semien went 1-for-4 with two RBIs and is hitting .340 this spring. Eaton is hitting .352.

— Jose Abreu homered and singled, driving in three runs in five at-bats. He scored twice and belted his third home run of the spring.