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Pitching coach believes lefty will be on opening-day roster

Danks still in Sox’s plans

Published: Friday, March 15, 2013 11:46 p.m. CDT
White Sox starting pitcher John Danks throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a spring training game March 9 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Despite a rocky performance Thursday, left-hander John Danks remains in contention to be part of the Chicago White Sox’s opening day roster, pitching coach Don Cooper said Friday.

“Listen, John is making baby steps forward,” Cooper said 1 day after Danks allowed six runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings against the Angels. “He’s worked all winter. He’s definitely going to participate. He’s definitely going to be with us, I feel. But right now, we’ve got 2 weeks left to get it all together.”

Danks is tentatively scheduled to make three more starts. He threw 61 pitches on Thursday, but Cooper is looking for Danks to reach the six-inning mark by the time the Sox open the regular season.

Cooper is aware that Danks still needs to improve his velocity, but understands he still is building arm strength after undergoing left shoulder surgery in August.

“Are we going to have enough time?” Cooper asked? “Yeah, I think we have enough time, if everything really works out well the rest of the time.

“John is aware [that] if he’s ready, he’s going to be with us. If he’s not, we’ll give him more time. It’s not something we are going to rush or force feed. We can’t say, ‘Hey, we need you to throw harder.’ We have no control over that. All we have control over is going out there and having our sidelines and going out in the game.”

If Danks isn’t ready, the Sox could get away with not needing a fifth starter until April 7 – the team’s sixth game – because of an off-day on April 2. Cooper said left-hander Hector Santiago and right-hander Dylan Axelrod remain on schedule to step in if Danks isn’t ready.

Cooper also believes that reliever Jesse Crain will be ready by opening day. Crain, who is recovering from a right adductor strain, warmed up Friday afternoon with the hope he can pitch an inning in a minor league game. He has pitched in only one exhibition game this spring.

“I’m not worried about Jesse right now, because I know we have enough time to get a reliever ready,” Cooper said. “Jesse is going to take the ball 60 to 70 times [during the season]. I didn’t need 20 [appearances] down here in the first place. It certainly would be nice to get him out here and get him going. ... We know what Jesse can do if he’s healthy.”

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