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Wednesday, June 19

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White Sox Mon Feb 25 2013

Danks' Return Is Key To Sox Rotation

Sox_200.pngI found an interesting factoid when researching John Danks: the six-year vet's first trip to the DL was in June of 2011. Now an injury is the top issue for Danks.

He will try to return from surgery he underwent on his throwing shoulder last August. If he returns to form, the Sox's top three "could be as good as anybody's," David Schoenfield writes. No pressure.

According to reports, Danks doing well. In January he said his rehab was on track, and he threw a problem-free first bullpen session a little over a week ago. He's now facing live hitters and he's using full arm strength when pitching.

"As far as health, I'll throw as hard as I want," Danks said to ESPN Chicago last week. "And I've been cleared by the doctors, and I'm passed that mental block of cutting it loose. I feel like we're at that point now where you want arm strength. We can start working on pitching rather than try to get back healthy."

Judging by the reports from when Danks had surgery to repair his torn left capsule and get debris removed from his shoulder, the 27-year-old pitcher's recovery is on schedule. They expected him to be ready for Spring Training, and he is confident he'll make the Opening Day roster.

Danks has been familiar with injuries over the last two seasons. Before he was shut down last year, he was sent to the DL in May for soreness in his left shoulder (a precursor to his season-ending injury?). His 5.70 ERA in nine starts last year could be forgiven if his shoulder alone caused him to pitch so poorly.

Two years ago he suffered a strained oblique, causing that first DL trip. He recovered well and returned after the All-Star break. Though it wasn't a serious injury and he returned without issue, his numbers were down almost across the board in 2011 and he was even worse after the oblique injury.

If he returns on schedule and pitches like he did in 2010, the Sox will indeed have a vicious top three (with Gavin Floyd and the Jose Quintana/Hector Santiago/mid-season pick-up X will fall into place to round out the rotation).

What if the shoulder still bothers him and he's ineffective? The Sox will have to rely too much on Chris Sale's young arm and Jake Peavy (who himself is known for being often injured) at the top of the rotation, and an increased workload with no margin of error for Floyd, Quintana and Santiago.

Again, no pressure on Danks.

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