After early struggles, Danks ends strong

Chicago White Sox starter John Danks was thrilled to end his season on a high note. Danks went 7 1/3 innings on Saturday, giving up only three runs while striking out eight and walking one in the Sox’s 6-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

With an uncertain future facing many in the Sox organization -- players, manager, and front office execs alike -- Danks hopes this team can be brought back intact and have another chance to live up to expectations.

“Trust me, if this same group of guys comes back next year -- which, who knows what happens -- I'm gonna be just as optimistic as I was [entering] this year,” Danks said. “I thought we were the team to beat. Obviously, Detroit played better than us all year. If we have the same team next year, I like our chances. I really do. This year is just a case of us underperforming for whatever reason. My hope is that we get another shot at it next year. We'll see what happens this offseason.”

“We’ll see” is right, as there are numerous questions heading into this offseason. There have been rumblings that manager Ozzie Guillen may not return or that general manager Kenny Williams could be relieved of his duties. Veteran starter Mark Buehrle and left fielder Juan Pierre are both free agents. Pierre isn’t expected to return and many would be surprised if Buehrle doesn’t move on as well.

The White Sox have multiple players with high-salaried contracts who have underperformed, namely Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy. It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to unload one of those overpriced players, which could lead to one or both of Carlos Quentin and Danks being moved in the offseason. Both Quentin and Danks are arbitration eligible and looking to get raises.

Danks, who started the season 0-8, before finishing at 8-12, felt he pitched better than his record indicates. Guillen agreed, saying that Danks was great both on and off the field.

“When you coach this kid or manage him or you’re his teammate, you appreciate his effort every time he’s out there,” Guillen said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s good or bad, he gives you what he has with no complaints. He fights like the way people should be fighting.”

The struggles weren’t easy, but in the long run Danks believes he’ll be a better pitcher having suffered through it.

“I never once felt sorry for myself or whatever. It is what it is,” Danks said. “I feel like, if nothing else, I know I can take anything this game is going to throw at me. There were a couple times where it was pretty miserable early on this year. I'm gonna go home, I'm gonna get ready and hopefully have the kind of year next that I'd hoped to have this year. I know I'm capable of it, I just have to do it now.”