There seemed to be more growing questions about the health of pitcher John Danks and whether or not he would now be back later than sooner, but that was all put to rest in the wake of the Sox winning their season opener on Monday.
Danks, who had season-ended shoulder surgery last August, was in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field for the Opening Day festivities, and said his stint on the disabled list to start this season included him continuing to pitch and build arm strength.
Danks pitched on Friday in Arizona against a minor-league team of Texas Rangers players, and was scheduled to return to the Sox facility in Glendale, and make another scheduled start on Thursday. Any rumors that were floating out there about Danks having a setback were shot down by the southpaw, as well as general manager Rick Hahn.
"There is zero upside to either side ... for us running him out there (hurt)," Hahn said. "I don't know who is commenting about that. It certainly isn't someone who is plugged in to the realities of the situation."
As far as how he performed in his latest outing, Danks said there was some good, some bad, but the key right now is remaining patient.
He knows his velocity was the same as it was in spring training, when, "rather than going out there with a 93 (mph fastball), I was going out there with an 85. That's a big difference," Danks said.
"I don't have any doubts I will get back to where I was," Danks said. "It will take some time. More time than we thought or hoped."
The hope was to leave Danks in extended spring for the first few weeks, keep him out of cold-weather games, and then have him back near the end of April, but both Hahn and Danks said there was no timetable for a return at this point.
What did hit Danks hard in watching the opener against the Royals was that he was the Opening Day pitcher for the Sox at this time last season.
"I was thinking a year ago I was getting ready to throw in this game," Danks said. "So a lot's happened this past year. I'm ready to be healthy and put all this behind me and ready to be a part of the team again. This rehab process, in the grand scheme of things, I'm not that far out of surgery, but it feels like I've been out for years now. I'm going to do everything I can to get back as soon as possible, but in the grand scheme of things, we're at the mercy of my shoulder. So when that's ready, I'm ready."
The good thing for the Sox is they still feel like Dylan Axelrod can hold down the fort while Danks is getting better, and Hector Santiago is waiting in the wings. The front end of the starting staff is highlighted by Chris Sale, who was dominant in the opener, Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd.
"I think we have as much talent as any (pitching) staff I've ever been on, that's for sure," Peavy said. "I think we can match up with anybody in the league one through 12."