Danks gave up no runs and just one hit over three innings against the Seattle Mariners in his first Cactus League start of the spring. His first start on Saturday was rained out and he ended up pitching a simulated game in a covered batting cage.
There still is a long way to go to decide if Danks will really open the season as the No. 2 starter, but so far there is no reason to think he can’t handle the responsibility.
“Yeah, I mean, he’s stronger so I think that’s important,” manager Robin Ventura told reporters in Arizona. “But I think it’s just the location to be able to have the endurance. He just looks good. I think that’s one of the things. Location was a big deal for him last year and the strength behind it and just having enough to stay out there long enough to do it.”
Upon returning from shoulder surgery last season, Danks was constantly in an uphill battle without his best fastball. He leaned mostly on a curveball and changeup, but the results were mostly forgettable as his 4.75 ERA in 22 starts would attest.
Ideally, the White Sox would be able to break up their most dependable starters when the season begins to give the bullpen the best chance for success. As it stands, Sale would pitch first and Jose Quintana would pitch fourth.
It would be a lot to ask from Danks to carry the responsibility of the No. 2 starter just 18 months after surgery, but so far it looks like it could work. But Ventura doesn’t want to put too much pressure on his veteran lefty.
“It can change, especially early on with days off and probably the weather,” Ventura said. “We are already taking the weather kind of into account. It doesn’t look like at this point we are going to have a free run through the first week or two. The way it lines up right now it would be that way, but it doesn’t mean that’s the way it’s going to be.”