Many major-league teams scramble to come up with three or four reliable starting pitchers.
As they ease into spring training, the White Sox are feeling confident because they have six potential standout starters.
Chris Sale heads the rotation, followed by Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago. Last, but certainly not least, there’s John Danks.
“I can’t wait to get going,” Danks said at SoxFest in late January. “I’m sure they’re going to have some special stuff for me to do, but I plan on being ready to go from Day 1 of spring training.”
Danks last pitched on May 19, when he threw 61⁄3 scoreless innings against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. On Aug. 6, the 27-year-old lefty had surgery, and he has been on the comeback trail ever since.
On Thursday, Danks threw for the first time at training camp.
“It felt real good,” Danks told reporters in Glendale, Ariz. “It’s encouraging to be able to go out there and throw all four pitches and feel good afterward.
“I don’t know exactly how many pitches I threw, but I feel good about things. It’s obviously the first one, but it’s good to get out there.”
Danks’ session reportedly lasted 10 minutes, and he threw mostly fastballs while mixing in some changeups, curveballs and cutters.
“He came in better than I thought he would,” White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper told reporters. “I’m pleased with where he’s at today. Now my sights are continuing to look forward and continue to climb with everybody else.”
It’s going to be a lengthy climb, considering spring training is a week longer this year because of the World Baseball Classic.
The Sox are going to be cautious with Danks, and he’s not expected to make his first Cactus League start until March 4.
If Danks is healthy enough to break camp, the White Sox are going to have a surplus of starters.
That doesn’t mean new general manager Rick Hahn is looking for a trade partner.
“We view the pitching as a strength,” Hahn said at SoxFest. “We’re not really that inclined to make ourselves weaker in that area.”
Hahn is well aware the White Sox play in a ballpark that favors offense. Last season there were 2.83 home runs hit per game at U.S. Cellular Field.
In major-league baseball, only Yankee Stadium (2.85 HR per game) was a bigger launchpad.
Hahn said it’s imperative for the Sox to stockpile as many quality arms as possible.
“Given the ballpark we play in, the difference between good offensive clubs and bad offensive clubs blurs a little bit,” Hahn said. “You can really get beat when you have a bad pitching staff or a subpar pitching staff.
“You need an elite pitching staff to survive in the American League and to survive in our ballpark. We feel we’ve put that together and 1-through-12 we can compete with anybody.”
Entering the second season of a five-year, $65 million contract, a healthy Danks would make the White Sox’ pitching staff even more competitive.
“I think we’ve got a really good group of pitchers,” Danks said. “It was hard having to sit and watch for so much of last season, especially since I’d never been hurt before.
“It’s good to be back. We have a chance to do some good things, but that’s only on paper. We have to go out there and do it.”
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