CHICAGO -- There remains a long way to go before John Danks is completely back to normal after shoulder surgery in 2012, but in some ways he will come full circle when he takes the mound Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
The left-hander’s last outing took place May 19 of last year on the North Side, when he picked up the victory after pitching a scoreless 6 1/3 innings. It wasn’t long, though, before he was shut down for the rest of the year with a shoulder ailment that ultimately required surgery in August.
It’s as if in his second start this season, he is getting a chance to pick up where he left off last year.
“I hadn't thought about it like that,” Danks said. “I’m just really focused on trying to win a ballgame now. The last start (Friday) was the one I got to say, 'I made my comeback,' and go through all that. Now, looking forward, I'm hoping to be looked at and thought of as just another pitcher in the rotation. That starts (Wednesday). Hopefully we'll go out there, have a good one and go from there.”
Danks pitched well against the Miami Marlins on Friday, giving up three runs on four hits and no walks over six innings. During his minor league rehab assignment Danks struggled with his control, but all that changed once he returned to the White Sox.
“I wish I knew the answer,” Danks said when asked how his control improved against better competition. “I hope it's adrenaline, because there's plenty of it here.”
Danks reasoned that one issue could have been his desire to hit higher radar-gun readings in an effort to convince the club that his velocity was returning and it was time to come back to the big leagues. That led to some overthrowing and poor mechanics.
“We had a number, I kept hearing floating around velocity-wise and maybe I was trying to do too much in that regard,” he said. “Up here, it's about winning ballgames and trying to throw the ball where you're trying to throw it. I really don't have an answer, but I hope it's all in the past. It's just part of coming back from surgery, I guess.”
Against the Cubs on Wednesday, Danks knows he will be facing a better offense than what the Marlins showed. He also knows the wind could be blowing out, making things even tougher on pitchers. At least with one start under his belt before going to Wrigley, he knows he has the stuff to compete.
“That's the hardest part, to let them know that I was ready to be back and they felt like I was ready,” Danks said. “I still hadn't had a chance to see big league hitters out there. To face a big league team and have decent success does nothing but build confidence moving forward.”