By Connor McKnight-
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) John Danks doesn’t have the velocity he wants. He’s still not able to reach back and ask for the heat he’s used to. Worse, he’s not sure when his strength will return.
“Obviously the velocity’s not where it’s going to be when it’s all said and done,” Danks said. “I have enough on [the fastball] that, if I can locate it a little better than I did today, I’ll be alright. I can’t get away with quite as much as I was able to before surgery but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe I’ll learn how to pitch a little bit,” he said wryly.
That lack of velocity even has Danks hesitating—if only for a split second—about whether he’ll be on the opening day roster.
“I haven’t heard different or otherwise,” Danks said. “I fully anticipate them taking the best five guys they have at that time. Hopefully I’m one of them. I don’t have any doubts I won’t be. That’s their decision to make. This is my first time really doing anything like this. I just have to listen to what Herm and Coop and everyone are saying and keep on grinding.”
Manager Robin Ventura is essentially waiting to see more from Danks before he declares him in or out.
“I’m not looking that way right now. He’s progressing every time he goes out as far as how he’s feeling. That right now is more important—him being healthy—than thinking that far ahead.
Danks has never been a flamethrower but a proper differential between his fastball and change-up (an offering that has served as an out pitch in seasons prior) is crucial.
While Thursday’s line will show Danks gave up six earned in just 3.1 innings, he was fairly happy about hitting a few milestones.
“Obviously, the results don’t show but I feel like this was probably one of my better outings,” Danks said. “I threw some good change-ups, was able to get the cutter working a little bit towards the end. Obviously I gotta get the ball down but that’ll come.”
In the absence of velocity, Danks and the White Sox will work on location. That’s evident in what his catcher, Tyler Flowers, said prior to the game.
“Last time the big thing was just fastball command: locating the fastball and throwing effective breaking balls and trying to miss in good spots,” Flowers said. “You know, either hit the spot or miss in a spot where it’s not going to hurt you. That just comes with repetition. It’s early. He’s only had a couple outings. Those are good things to focus on because those are important things throughout the year. If you’re going to miss, miss in the appropriate spot so you don’t get hurt too bad.”
But as Danks works on location, all he can do is wait on velocity.
“[Dr. Anthony Romeo] told me I’m doing everything I can do,” Danks said. “There’s not any special exercises or special treatment I can do. I just have to go out there and throw through it … We’re at the mercy of my shoulder really.”