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White Sox's Danks not giving up on Opening Day aspirations

The SportsXchange

After a March 14 shaky Cactus League start against the Angels, John Danks was starting to run out of time when it comes to breaking with the big-league team out of spring camp. Then again, the left-hander was coming off season-ending surgery from last August, so the team might deem it a good thing if he does stay back for extended spring.

Through three spring outings, Danks was still trying to find his way, allowing 10 earned runs in 7 2/3 innings pitched, including three home runs. His velocity has picked up a bit on his fastball, but was still at least three or four ticks slower than normal. Basically, he's pitched like a guy that missed most of last season and is working his way back.

Danks of course still believes he's on schedule to be on the 25-man roster for Opening Day.

"I think so," Danks said. "I haven't heard anything different. Going back to what Dr. Romeo said, there's nothing else I can do. We're at the mercy of my shoulder, really. I'm going to go out and keep doing what I'm doing. Hopefully we'll start to see better results starting with the next time.

"It's a team sport and wins driven. I fully anticipate them taking the best five (starters) they have at that time. Hopefully I'm one of them. I have no doubts I will be."

An 11.74 ERA for Danks really doesn't put him in that category of best five, but then again, he's not the only starter struggling. Gavin Floyd has only pitched in one Cactus League game, instead pitching in an exhibition game against Team USA and a minor league game. The minor league game was to avoid him facing American League Central teams, which is a practice the Sox have been doing frequently this spring.

But even in that one outing, Floyd allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings pitched. Meanwhile, Jake Peavy has been going through a dead-arm period, and like Floyd has seen his share of simulated games to avoid facing teams in the division.

"I'm kind of coming into that dead-arm -- whatever that means -- mode," Peavy said. "I don't feel crazy-fresh right now simply because we're tearing the body down. And we'll tear the body down for one or two more starts.

"So you kind of tire your arm out, plus you're building up, you're throwing more and more pitches every time out, so you're getting tired, you're getting in shape. To get in shape, you have to do something. You have to stretch yourself until you get comfortable doing that."

The good news? Chris Sale and Jose Quintana have both been lights out, while Hector Santiago and Dylan Axelrod have pitched well enough to battle for the replacement spot in the rotation if Danks is left behind.

As Peavy pointed out, however, "We still have time on our side down here, so you can't get overly concerned yet."
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