GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — John Danks hadn’t pitched in a game since last May.
The 10 months that passed since felt like 10 years to the Chicago White Sox left-hander.
The last two hours before Danks started Chicago’s spring game against the San Francisco Giants on Monday seemed like an eternity to him, too.
“I tell you what, the clock stopped at 11 (a.m.),” said Danks, who took the mound at 1:05 p.m. Arizona time for the first time since he faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 19. “I felt like I kept looking at the clock, waiting for the game to start. Once I got on the field and started warming up, it felt a little more in my comfort zone.”
Danks looked comfortable in his 35-pitch start, throwing 27 for strikes and allowing one run on two hits and no walks with two strikeouts. One of the hits was a home run to left field by Joaquin Arias, the second batter he faced. After that, Danks retired five batters in a row before allowing a leadoff single in the third to Kensuke Tanaka.
“I feel good right now,” said Danks, who threw mostly fastballs and changeups. “The test will be tomorrow and the next day. So far, so good. As I was going back out there for the second and third innings, I didn’t feel like I was losing anything. If anything, it was starting to come to me a little bit.”
Danks made only nine starts last season and, after trying to rehab through his shoulder injury, had arthroscopic surgery in August to repair a capsular tear and minor debridement of the rotator cuff and biceps in the shoulder. He has been on a normal workload and routine this spring and has been saying he expects to be on the opening-day roster.
Monday’s start was an important step in his recovery process.
“I’m glad it’s over,” he said. “I couldn’t have really asked for more. I don’t want to give up homers, but my main focus was throwing strikes and I was able to do that.”
Ryan Vogelsong allowed three runs on four hits in his third spring start for the Giants. Vogelsong made his last appearance before he joins Team USA for the World Baseball Classic. He threw five scoreless innings over his first two starts.
“It’s early,” Vogelsong said. “My location has been pretty good, so that helps.”
Matt Cain pitched three innings in relief, allowing two runs and five hits. Cain’s spring ERA is 6.43.
White Sox outfielder Dewayne Wise hit an opposite-field, three-run homer near the left-field foul pole against Josh Osich, who inherited two of Vogelsong’s baserunners. Jeff Keppinger, signed in the offseason to play third base for Chicago, singled three times in three at-bats and stole a base. Alexei Ramirez doubled in a run and Paul Konerko singled in a run.
NOTES: White Sox right-handed reliever Jesse Crain, who was scheduled to pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, withdrew due to a strained right adductor. Crain said he hopes to return to his normal routine in a week. ... Vogelsong on the possibility of pitching to teammate Pablo Sandoval in the WBC: “I’ll probably throw it right down the middle. Or one in his ear.” ... The White Sox host Team USA in an exhibition on Tuesday. Gavin Floyd will make his first appearance of the spring for the Sox. ... Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (1 for 3) has 10 hits in his last 15 at-bats. ... White Sox first base prospect Keon Barnum, the 48th player chosen in the 2012 draft, had surgery Monday to remove the hamate bone in his right hand. ... Madison Bumgarner, who is working on a more compact delivery, starts Tuesday for the Giants against the Indians. Bumgarner has allowed one run in 3 2-3 innings over two outings