Danks, Sox starters will take it easy early

Danks, Sox starters will take it easy early
February 12, 2013, 6:00 pm
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John Danks doesn’t want any special treatment, and pitching coach Don Cooper insists the left-hander won’t be treated much differently than the rest of the White Sox starting pitchers.

Cooper said Tuesday he plans to not use any of the team’s five projected starters until the second week of exhibition games. The team opens exhibition play on Feb. 23, but a projected starter won’t appear until Chris Sale pitches March 1 in Goodyear, Ariz. against the Cleveland Indians. Jose Quintana is scheduled to pitch March 2 followed by Jake Peavy, Danks and Gavin Floyd, Cooper said.

The plan is simple: Cooper doesn’t want to wear out his regulars in spring training. Because of the World Baseball Classic, teams have been allotted an extra week to prepare for the regular season. But Cooper doesn’t want his guys to throw the entire time.

“We want them to be ready but we don’t want them to be over-ready,” Cooper said. “The goal is to the get them ready, but it’s also to keep them strong all year. I don’t need them to make eight starts and pitch 40 innings.”

Danks said he continues to make progress as he rehabs from Aug. 6 shoulder surgery. Thus far, Danks has hit every mark in a program that began at the end of last October. His current work has included use of his curveball. Danks threw a bullpen on Monday and will throw again on Thursday, Cooper said.

Danks believes he can be ready for the team’s April 1 opener but also realizes there’s plenty of days on the calendar in between.

“I anticipate being ready,” Danks said. “Obviously, a lot of time between now and then. I feel good about things. We’ll see how it goes. I’m ready. I’m healthy. I’m ready to be over it. That’s been a long process, but it’s been part of it. I’ve been through it to this point. It’s got a little bit further to go.”

As Danks continues to progress, general manager Rick Hahn’s concern is to make sure the left-hander paces himself. Danks’ contract pays him $14.25 million in each of the next four seasons. While the Sox would love for him to be ready for opening day, Hahn has the team’s long-term outlook in mind as well.

Last season, Danks was limited to nine starts as he went 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA.

“The biggest challenge with him is slowing him down and when you have a guy coming back from injury, if you are going to have some sort of hurdle or obstacle, that’s a good one to have,” Hahn said. “It’s going to be on Coop and Robin (Ventura) as we go forward to sort of make sure he’s not biting off more than he can chew. He feels strong, he looks great, he’s eager. That’s all wonderful, but we still need to put a little bit of governor on him so we can hopefully get him through seven months.”

While he has been told he has progressed well and hasn’t had any setbacks, Danks knows the real proof comes when he faces hitters in a few weeks. He’s happy with how his arm has responded to throwing curveballs but wants to see the look in hitters’ eyes.

“I guess I’m where they want me to be,” Danks said. “They haven’t seen me throw yet, but today we’ll find out just how happy or unhappy they are with me. I think mentally I will be OK. After I face maybe hitters in BP and see how guys are reacting to how I’m throwing the ball that would be telling. But more than anything I’m just ready to get out there and start throwing and get on a mound and let people see me and go from there.”