CHICAGO -- John Danks admitted Tuesday that his long road to recovery was cratered with potholes of doubt, threatening to strip him of the confidence that had served him so well.
The Chicago White Sox's left-hander never wanted to feel sorry for himself because he had to undergo shoulder surgery, since many pitchers before him went through the same issue.
But when a long rehab process turned into struggles last year, followed by inconsistencies at the start of 2014, he couldn’t help but think he might be one of those who doesn’t make it all the way back.
If the past five starts are any indicator, Danks is back and as good as ever.
The left-hander went 6⅔ innings Tuesday, giving up just one earned run in an 8-2 White Sox victory over the San Francisco Giants. Over his past five outings, going back to an eight-inning scoreless outing against the New York Yankees on May 24, he has a 1.51 ERA.
“It’s been a long, frustrating road to get back to here and certainly there’s plenty to be worked on, but yeah, there were some days where you were having to fight doubt from creeping in,” Danks said. “I think I’m beyond that.”
Recent mechanical adjustments and a shift to the third-base side of the rubber have made all the difference. The better mechanics have led to better results and now Danks has a renewed sense of confidence at his disposal as well.
“You get on a nice little run, it’s a lot more fun to go out and pitch,” he said. “Certainly the adjustments we’ve made have helped and guys scoring runs have helped. I’m just gonna continue to ride it.”
Gordon Beckham was only happy to hit a two-run home run in the third inning that helped to erase an early Giants lead.
“It's awesome,” Beckham said. “He's been throwing great, and he's a great guy in the clubhouse, so he's one of those people that you cheer for and want to do well. To see him doing what he's capable of, it's nice.”
Chris Sale and Jose Quintana might have a higher profile in the White Sox’s rotation, but it was Danks who outdueled the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander last week and it was Danks who stopped a four-game losing streak on Tuesday.
“He has really gotten it together, from where he started early in the year, the frustrations he had, some mechanical stuff that you start with and then it becomes mental and all the physical stuff that comes with it,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He has pitched to where he’s always giving us a chance right now. He becomes tough when he has the feel of the changeup like that and spotting his fastball. It just seems like he has a little more on it as far as spotting his fastball.”
Things tend to come a lot easier in baseball when you’re able to just think about baseball.
“I haven’t thought about [surgery] once,” Danks said. “I’m not the first guy to go through surgery. That’s certainly not a crutch for me. I feel like I can give us a chance to win every time out. I’m trying to do that.”