On a beautiful spring day in Glendale, AZ this afternoon, Chicago White Sox fans were treated to an encouraging sight. After having shoulder surgery last year, John Danks made his much-anticipated Cactus League debut against the San Francisco Giants. Throwing 35 pitches, 27 for strikes, in two innings plus, Danks was able to pound the strike zone and looked solid doing it. Allowing two hits and one run, the Sox lefty seemed to be very comfortable out on the mound. The last time Danks threw in a MLB game before today was May 19, 2012 against the crosstown rival Chicago Cubs.
Obviously the left-handed starter still has to see how his shoulder feels tomorrow, but all signs point to Danks being on the road to a healthy recovery. Danks set a goal for himself this spring to be ready to go come April 1, which is now looking very attainable. If his arm reacts well after this start and he continues to improve this spring, I believe Danks will be firmly implanted into the Sox rotation when Opening Day rolls around. A healthy, productive Danks will be a key component in the White Sox pitching staff, which figures to be one of the best in baseball. And the Sox will need a dominant staff if they want to compete in the American League Central.
If Danks’ shoulder is 100% this season, I foresee him having All-Star type numbers. However, if the 27-year-old starter can’t regain his form from before his shoulder problems last season, and he struggles in 2013, it will be a much harder road to postseason baseball for the South Siders.
Matt Malecha is a Chicago White Sox writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattMalecha.