Danks has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for Week 1

Coming back from shoulder surgery, White Sox hurler throws live BP for first time

Danks has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for Week 1

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- John Danks made a bold prediction following his live batting practice session, thrown on a back field at Camelback Ranch prior to Saturday's Cactus League opener with the Dodgers.

He's not sure what spot he will have in the White Sox five-man rotation, but Danks remains certain he will break camp with the team.

"It's not my job to make the order of the rotation, but I definitely see myself being in the first five this year," Danks said. "I have no doubt I'll be on the Opening Day roster."

"Yeah he's been that way since he had his surgery," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "All the work he had to do, he was on it and he's been focused the whole time."

Danks continued his climb back from Aug. 6 arthroscopic shoulder surgery by throwing in a two-inning setup with Chris Sale. Danks faced Andy Wilkins, Tyler Saladino, Seth Loman and Trayce Thompson before sitting down for a break with Sale on the mound, and also threw to new acquisition Conor Gillaspie and Marcus Semien in the second frame.

Although Danks went against hitters Wednesday in a covered batting cage due to inclement weather, Saturday qualified as his first full throttle live batting practice. He let loose with a few screams of exasperation when missing his location, but that was more the competitive side of Danks than anything to do with his ongoing rehab work.

"Yeah, that's just me getting frustrated. I want it all to be right, right now," Danks said. "I said all along that patience is not one of my virtues.

"It was the breaking ball. I was having trouble making the cutter do what I wanted it to do, but that will come with just repetition. I have no doubt the breaking ball will get to where it needs to be by April. The most important thing is that I felt good and I'm feeling better each time out so that's a positive thing.

"I feel like I'm throwing a little harder," Danks said. "It's coming around."

As Danks stood on the side while Sale threw his first inning, he joked with Thompson about not trying to take him deep during BP. Thompson laughed and countered that if Danks continued to bust him inside, he wouldn't be able to do much with those offerings.

Danks throws live batting practice again on Tuesday, followed by a bullpen session Friday. His Cactus League debut comes March 4 against the Giants, and if all goes well, the 27-year-old believes it will be his first of five or six starts before leaving Arizona with the team.

There's no chance Danks will start Opening Day for a second straight year. But Danks sounds just as confident that he'll be starting some time during Week 1 of the regular season.

"Because it's so new to me, the whole rehab process and coming back, obviously I'm trying to push the envelope, but I have to really just rely on [White Sox head athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider] and Coop [pitching coach Don Cooper] and the doctors to make sure I'm where I want to be," Danks said. "I've asked, 'Can I throw more? Can I do whatever?'

"They're happy with where I'm at and things are improving, so I'm just going to stay the course. The most important thing now is that I'm still feeling good and better each time."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.