Pitching coach Don Cooper with John Danks. PHOTO BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox pitching Don Cooper hasn't ruled John Danks out of the starting rotation when camp breaks, but he knows the $65 million left-hander who started on Opening Day last season but was derailed by a shoulder injury must progress in his last three starts of the spring.
"John is aware if he's ready he's going to be with us,'' Cooper said Friday morning. "If he's not, we'll give him more time. It's not something we are going to rush or force feed. We can't say, 'Hey, we need you to throw harder.' We have no control over that. All we have control over is going out there and having our sidelines and going out in the game. Heck, he threw 60 pitches yesterday so that's a plus in itself. He's climbing.
"Now, it's going to be do we have enough time to get it all together for him to make his first start? That's what we are kind of watching. Nobody knows the answer to that. But there are positives there for sure.''
In the upper 80s, Danks' velocity on his fastball isn't where it needs to be for him to be at the top of his game. He was roughed up for six runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings against the Angels on Thursday. His spring ERA is 11.74 over three starts. His ERAs the last two springs were 3.04 and 4.09.
"I knew going into this there were going to be ups and downs,'' Cooper said. "He's had a surgical procedure for crying out loud. But the pluses yesterday: He threw a few more strikes. His changeup was pretty good. He threw a couple of curve balls that were good. There's progress there. Are we going to have enough time? Yeah, I think we have enough time if everything really works out well the rest of the time.''
Cooper said the goal is to get Danks ready to pitch six innings.
"I'm not thinking we got to get him up to 115 pitches here,'' Cooper said. "This is a post-surgery guy. Yesterday he went out there four times. Next time he's going to try to get out there for five.
"Listen, he's frustrated by the results but let's face it, as we go, we'd like to see more results. But, dot, dot, dot, this is a guy that's working to come back after surgery, somebody was digging in his arm, for crying out loud. But listen, we got time left and we'll see."