Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

Danks returns in Sox 4-3 extra inning victory

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John Danks was good enough Friday in his first game in more than a year to earn a quality start for the White Sox, if not the Sox 4-3 victory over the Miami Marlins in 11 innings.
But six innings of three runs on four hits--with five strikeouts and no walks--may only be the beginning of even better days for the lefty with a repaired shoulder.
``The John today on the mound may well be different from the John we see six months from now,'' general manager Rick Hahn said. ``When you're coming back from a shoulder surgery, it's not always a linear process and it's not always one where you have continual improvement over time.
``He's going to build up arm strength through further outings when he pitches competitively. I expect we're going to see a pitcher who's going to battle and keep us in games, give us a good chance to win right now--but he may well continue to improve over the next six months or a year.''
Danks last pitched May 19, 2012 in an interleague game against the Cubs. Shoulder surgery and the long rehab process were as much a mental exercise as a physical one.
``The DL is a lonely place,'' said manager Robin Ventura, who endured his own long rehab years ago after dislocating his ankle in a spring training game. ``It's tough. It's miserable and everything that goes with that.
``To have him come back, with the emotions and keeping that in check, he did great.''
Danks threw 76 pitches, and the radar gun often seemed out of whack registering his ``speed'' at times at 76 mph. He did hit one batter, but the hit that hurt the most was a home run by Derek Ditrich with Placido Polanco on base.
The other run scored when the last batter he faced, Marcell Ozuna, led the 7th with a double and eventually scored.
``I should have thought more about that home run pitch,'' Danks said. ``I should have had a better idea, but that's on me.
``But all in all, it was a great first time out,'' he said. ``The competitor in my wanted to go more, but I understand. It's part of coming back.''
Ventura saw plenty of good things in six innings.
``He was getting people to swing and miss. It was what you'd expect in him coming back,'' Ventura said. ``He had enough spotting his curveball and fastball--that's what he plays with.''
Danks is willing to accept trading a once-electric fastball for command.
``I've seen 93 mph fastballs get hit a long way,'' he said. ``I think if the rest of my career I can throw 87 to 90 and throw where I want to--I've learned location means a lot.
``I felt great,'' he added. ``From where I was in spring training to here, it's night and day. I feel we're at a good point. My stuff is coming, but I feel I have plenty to compete.''
The Sox had tied the score with two runs in the fifth giving Danks the lead in the sixth when Paul Konerko singled home Alex Rios, who had singled to extend his hitting streak to 18 games.
The winning run scored in the 11th when Konerko singled with one out. Pinch runner Tyler Greene scored on Jeff Keppinger's single, giving the Sox their second walk-off victory of the season.
The Sox had a chance to win in the 10th when they loaded the bases against Chad Qualls.
But Rios grounded into a double play, ruled out at first in a close play.
``You just have to keep playing,'' Ventura said.
Danks' return was considered a victory in itself by his teammates.
``I know what he has had to go through mentally and physically to get back here, and it has been a long road and not an easy one,'' pitcher Chris Sale said. ``I'm just happy for him.
``Regardless of how it goes, it's a win either way. Having him go back out there and jump on that horse, it's fun to watch.''

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This page contains a single entry by Toni Ginnetti published on May 24, 2013 11:11 PM.

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