- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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Chicago White Sox starter John Danks had to battle winter rust and 50-degree conditions -- more like Chicago in April than March in Arizona -- in his second start since undergoing shoulder surgery this past summer. In two-and-a-third innings, he gave up seven hits and four runs as the White Sox fell 11-9 to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Getting back his command and regaining his arm strength appear more important to Danks than early results. The left-handed pitcher's changeup was erratic Saturday afternoon.
"It was hit-or-miss," Danks said. “When I threw good ones I had good results and vice versa. It was probably 50-50 on keeping the ball down.”
Danks had a much easier outing his first time out of the chute. Facing the world champion San Francisco Giants, he allowed two hits in two innings, one of them a long home run. On Saturday, Arizona scored three runs in the first inning off Danks.
“It wasn’t your typical Arizona weather,“ he said. "Out on the field it wasn’t too bad. Hey, it is going to be worse than this in a month. You have to be ready."
Matt Thornton, also rehabbing from early spring training biceps soreness, was hit hard in his two-thirds of an inning on the mound. "I felt awesome," Thornton said. “I am just glad we don’t play Arizona in the regular season this year. The two worst pitches I threw were my only two outs."
The White Sox setup man surrendered six runs on five hits with a walk and a strikeout. "The results were terrible, but I got my work in," he said. "My breaking ball was good, but my change was terrible. My fastball location I thought was OK. You really can’t worry about results in spring training.”
Thornton's and Danks' health are considered to be the two main question marks this spring for Chicago. Veteran reliever Jesse Crain missed a week with a strained right groin. He has now worked his way back into the bullpen rotation. Both pitchers said that their arms felt great before and after they threw on Saturday.