Danks trying to stay optimistic

A lot has changed for John Danks since Opening Day 2012. AP Photo/Mark Duncan

CHICAGO -- While saying there has been no change in his pitch velocity, John Danks remains optimistic that he can return to the Chicago White Sox sooner rather than later.

Danks, who had season-ending shoulder surgery last summer, will be at extended spring training while on the disabled list to start the season.

He pitched Friday at Arizona against a team made up of Texas Rangers minor leaguers and will pitch again Thursday in the desert.

"Obviously I'm not quite where I need to be; it's about what it was the time before," said Danks, who is in Chicago to take in Opening Day festivities. "There is some good and some bad. When I was able to make a pitch, I had some good results and vice versa. I'm working on arm strength, velocity, being able to make the pitches do what I want. I still have a little ways to go."

At the start of spring training, Danks was determined to make the Opening Day roster. The White Sox stuck to their deliberate rehab schedule, though, even after Danks asked to speed up the process. In the end, his velocity was nowhere near where it needed to be and remains low.

"It's different; it's a learning process," Danks said. "Rather than going out there with 93 (mph fastball), I was going out there with 85. That's a big difference. There's some learning that will come along with it. I'll get back to where I was. That's what I'm still banking on. I don't have any doubts I will. It will take some time, more time than we thought or hoped. In the grand scheme of things, I'll be back to where I need to be and help win some games."

There remains no timetable for when he might return.

"In talking to the doctors, they warned me to be patient," Danks said. "I don't know what that means, it's not in my blood. I'm just going to keep throwing every five days and hopefully be ready sooner rather than later. I'm excited to be here. It's a good change of pace for me, being in Arizona, coming here to see this and just rekindles that fire a little bit."

It is also a reminder, though, that Danks was at the top of the rotation last season.

"I was thinking a year ago I was getting ready to throw in this game," Danks said. "So a lot's happened this past year. I'm ready to be healthy and put all this behind me and ready to be a part of the team again.

"This rehab process, in the grand scheme of things, I'm not that far out of surgery, but it feels like I've been out for years now. I'm going to do everything I can to get back as soon as possible, but we're at the mercy of my shoulder. So when that's ready, I'm ready."