Checkup has Sox optimistic about Danks

White Sox starter John Danks only made nine starts in 2012. Rob Grabowski/US Presswire

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Chicago White Sox are starting to feel better about John Danks' chances of starting the 2013 season on time.

The left-hander, who missed most of the 2012 season after a shoulder injury that required an arthroscopic procedure, is said to be on track after head trainer Herm Schneider made a recent house call to Danks in Austin, Texas.

“Hermie was in Austin within the last 10 days and said that John is progressing well and on target with his throwing program and everything remains cautiously optimistic as we head into spring training,” general manager Rick Hahn said Monday at baseball’s annual winter meetings.

Danks made just nine starts last season following a winter when he agreed to a five-year, $65 million contract extension. His salary is set to soar to $14.25 million this upcoming season.

In a three-year period from 2008-10, Danks never posted an ERA over 3.77 and averaged at least 200 innings during that stretch. But in 2011, he slipped to an 8-12 record with a 4.33 ERA and he went just 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA in his nine outings this past season.

The White Sox are feeling good about their pitching staff heading into 2013, but that assumes a healthy and effective Danks.

The White Sox’s medical staff has mapped out every single day of his rehab program from now until spring training. That timetable includes throwing at full velocity in early January, ahead of where pitchers normally are at that point of the offseason.

Hahn said that if Danks maintains his current rehab program without any setbacks, he would indeed be ready to pitch in a game by the first week of the regular season.