GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Pitcher John Danks, who was once the young gun in Chicago White Sox camp, turns 30 in mid-April and has incurred lots of injury-related wear and tear during his career. But he arrived in Arizona in excellent shape thanks to a rigorous training regimen at his offseason home in Nashville, Tennessee.
Danks had help. He worked out five days a week with Boston Red Sox prospect Mookie Betts, who has energy to spare at age 22. There were times that Betts pushed Danks harder in drills than he would have preferred, and left him sore in places he couldn’t have imagined.
“We would do conditioning, weightlifting, everything," Danks said. "I would be huffing and puffing and purging myself, and he just kept going. He's got speed. He can jump. That sucker is an athlete. That's the best way to describe him: He's as good an all-around athlete as I've ever seen.
“The rest of us had this deal with him where if we beat him in one of the drills, we wouldn't have to do any more. I told him, 'You better be sandbagging this one.' He would, and then about halfway through he would just tear out and blow the rest of us out."
The Red Sox have held firm in their resistance to trading Betts, who hit .291 with an .812 OPS in 52 games as a rookie. The Phillies have scouted Betts extensively, and baseball sources say Betts has been a prime target in their Cole Hamels-related trade discussions with Boston.
After weeks of being humbled by Betts in workouts, Danks can understand why.
"I've never seen him play, so I don't know if he can hit," Danks said. "But I don’t have any doubts that he can play all over the field."