GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He has made plenty of progress this spring but the White Sox feel John Danks could use more work.
Danks is likely to begin the 2013 season on the disabled list, manager Robin Ventura said Wednesday.
The White Sox pitcher hasn’t had any physical setbacks but his health hasn’t translated into good results. Danks -- who had shoulder surgery on Aug. 6 -- has a 16.36 spring ERA through four starts after he allowed 10 earned runs and 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings on Tuesday. Although a fifth starter isn’t needed until April 6 or 7, the White Sox think Danks will benefit from additional time to build arm strength.
One of the primary reasons for the decision is a lack of fastball velocity, Ventura said. Danks’ fastball has topped out at 90 mph but has hovered between 85-88 mph in most starts.
“He’s going out there without the velocity he needs to do what he does,” Ventura said. “Again, I don’t want to keep sending him out there with one arm tied behind his back. Until he can get that back, feels he can go out there and do that, this is what’s best.”
Danks wasn’t informed of the decision until mid-morning.
But earlier in the day he said he’d understand if the team chose to have him start the season on the DL. After his start Tuesday, Danks, who threw 82 pitches, said he didn’t want to be responsible for overuse of the bullpen each time he took the mound. Danks has completed 11 innings this spring and will make his next two starts in minor-league games, Ventura said.
“It’s not about me,” Danks said. “It’s a team game. Obviously we are here to win ballgames no matter who is doing that. I would like to be there but certainly would understand if they wanted me to wait a little bit and someone else was throwing a little better for April or whatever it is.”
Right now it appears as if Dylan Axelrod is in the lead to replace Danks.
Axelrod allowed two earned runs and four hits in three innings pitched in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has a 3.21 spring ERA in 14 innings.
The team could also turn to Hector Santiago but Ventura said Axelrod is the likely candidate at this point.
“We still have another week to figure that out for,” Ventura said. “I think the best chance for (Danks) would be to pitch strong and keep him in minor league games and start on the DL. … The more he goes out there and pitches it's going to be better for him. Until he gets everything back and can throw everything as hard as he wants and has that velocity, you're just seeing him out there without a lot of his pitches.”
Even though Danks hasn’t progressed in games as much as both he and the team hoped, he has accomplished plenty, pitching coach Don Cooper said. Cooper admitted Danks needs improvement in “all areas” but thinks he has had many more positives than negatives. Danks began his throwing program in late October and hasn’t had to back off at any time throughout the process.
“Obviously the outing yesterday and some of the outings, those aren’t the results you’re looking for,” Cooper said. “But John is recovering from surgery. We knew this was going to happen. We knew there’d be ups and downs and certainly we’re having some of that right now. …There’s much much good news. One, he’s participating. Two, he’s climbing. I see improvement.”