John Danks returned to the mound for the White Sox on Monday for the first time since he underwent shoulder surgery on August 6th of last year. The surgery ended a disappointing 2012 season for Danks who was just 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA despite being named the team’s Opening Day starter for the first time.
Here is the pitching line for Danks on Monday’s start versus the Giants: 2+ innings, 2 hits, 1 ER, 0BB/0K’s, 1 HR allowed.
He threw 35 pitches, 27 for strikes and faced 8 batters. Joaquin Arias took Danks deep as the 2nd batter of the game on a 1-2 pitch for the lone tally. Danks pitched a 1-2-3 2nd inning before allowing a single to Kensuke Tanaka (possibly the guy from Major League 2) to lead off the 3rd and was lifted from the game. Danks’ velocity was around 85-89mph and he did touch 89mph on a couple different occasions.
Overall this has to be considered a successful first appearance for Danks, assuming that there are no lingering effects and that he will be able to make his next scheduled appearance.
I wouldn’t worry too much about the home run or the velocity. The speed will come as his arm strength improves throughout the spring. The fact that he was already touching 89 MPH on several occasions is actually a good thing. It shouldn’t be too hard for him to get back up to where he was consistently, with an average fastball speed right at about 91mph and a max of 94-95 MPH.
The most important thing is that he threw 77% of his pitches for strikes. Control was an issue for Danks last year even before he got hurt as he was walking 3.9 batters per 9 innings, up from 2.4 the year before and a full 1.0 higher than his career average coming into last season.
If Danks can regain his control he should have an easier time returning to the form that he was pitching at when the White Sox gave him a 5 year, $65 million deal before last season.
Obviously we will all continue to monitor Danks throughout Spring Training as he is one of the biggest question marks for this team heading into the 2013 season but this was an important first step for the veteran left hander on his road back into the Sox rotation.