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Danks focused on pitching, not health

John Danks worked on his breaking ball Tuesday and felt strong and optimistic. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

John Danks will compete against real competition on March 4 for the first time in nine months.

The White Sox lefty is looking forward to pitching for real after completing his final steps back to the mound. Danks had a 50-pitch live batting practice session Tuesday.

"We were a lot more focused on the breaking ball today," Danks said. "I still have a way to go with it , but it is coming.

"Other than that I felt good. I feel I am getting behind the ball a little bit more every time out. Now I can start to worry about the pitching side of things rather than being healthy."

Danks was looked at as the ace of the rotation going into 2012 before going down with a sore shoulder. He made nine starts before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery on Aug. 6, 2012.

"It is a work in progress but it is coming," Danks said. "I know I have it , it is just a matter of me honing in on it and doing it consistently."

The 27-year-old Texas native hopes to live up to the five-year, $65 million contract he signed before the 2012 season.

"My arm strength has improved. It is definitely getting better," he said. "I have been able to do everything that has been asked of me every day. Those are two things that have kept me really optimistic."

Danks will pitch an inning or two against San Francisco on Monday in Glendale depending on the pitch count. Arm strength will be the one telling sign in Danks' journey back into the rotation full time.

"I want it to get to where I can throw 120 pitches every five days," Danks said after his session. "I still have a little way to go, but I am on pace with everyone else. They are not doing anything special for me and they have a good idea where I need to be."