John Danks feels good after spring debut

John Danks threw two-plus innings in his spring debut. AP Photo/Mark Duncan

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox left-hander John Danks made his first start Monday since undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder last August.

Danks, who had not pitched against major league hitters since May 19, 2012, threw two-plus innings. He surrendered one run on two hits, including a home run to Joaquin Arias in the first inning.

“I feel good right now. The test will be how I feel tomorrow,” Danks said. “So far, so good. As I was going out there for the second and third innings, I didn’t feel like I was losing anything. The pitch to Arias was a changeup and it was the third one I threw him in the sequence. Had I thrown that change where I threw the next one I might have gotten an out.”

Two scouts who were using a radar gun to time Danks’ pitches had his fastball consistently at 88 mph – around four to five mph less than his average fastball before surgery.

“We really tried to focus on fastball, changeup,” Danks said. “We didn’t throw but a handful of breaking balls. I was able to locate the fastball and able to get the change over the plate. The change is a feel pitch that will come with game exposure. It was a positive day.”

The White Sox are counting on Danks returning to the rotation in April. The five rotation pitchers could include three or four lefties, depending on the team’s transactions before the start of the regular season.

Danks, 27, signed a White Sox record five-year, $65 million contract in December of 2011. Investing in the future was the primary reason the Sox gave Danks the contract before he was eligible for free-agent status.

“This is definitely the first hurdle,” Danks said. “Obviously the couple of weeks leading up to this was important, but now we really start focusing on the pitching side of things. We know I am healthy.”

Danks has a career record of 57-60 with a 4.14 ERA. His best season was 2012, when he went 15-11 with a 3.72 ERA.