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Danks getting closer to making Minors rehab start

Danks getting closer to making Minors rehab start

CHICAGO -- White Sox talk following the postponement of Tuesday's game against the Indians centered on a pitcher who currently isn't part of the Major League rotation and probably won't be until late May or even early June.

With John Danks returning to Arizona for another extended spring training start this Friday, the clubhouse questions for pitching coach Don Cooper concerning the rehabbing left-hander ranged from what improvement Cooper needs to see from him to Danks' disappointment over not yet starting a Minor League assignment.

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"The plan has been laid out for him. You can't go to step two before you complete step one," said Cooper. "We just about completed step one. I would imagine that if he has another good ballgame, you'll see him out in our Minor League system before long.

"Just continue to feel good -- before, during and after. His stuff continues to come back, better and better feel ball [for the ball] out of his hand. It's not necessarily the radar gun for me."

After undergoing season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder on Aug. 6, Danks worked tirelessly in the offseason to be ready for Opening Day. His velocity and arm strength weren't good enough for him to break camp with the team and he started the season on the disabled list.

Danks felt ready to begin his rehab assignment this weekend, but after meeting with Cooper, manager Robin Ventura, head athletic trainer Herm Schneider and general manager Rick Hahn on Monday, it was decided he needed another extended spring training start. In a talk between Cooper and Danks taking place about 10 days ago, he told the hurler that it would be Danks who ultimately would know best when he's ready to come back and contribute.

"There's going to come a time -- and that time is coming closer -- to where he's going to have to say, he's going to be the best one to know, 'Hey, I'm ready to try to help win a big league game in Chicago,'" Cooper said. "He knows what it's about here. He knows what he needs to have to win. He's going to be the best guy answering that question."

Cooper won't need to see Danks throw before he officially returns, trusting in the highly qualified people throughout the organization to help make that judgment. He closed by stressing pitch ability with Danks as much as velocity in terms of what he needs to succeed.

"We have to tighten it up when we get him in our hands. Right now, he's still climbing," Cooper said. "It's about hitting locations and changing speeds.

"Heck, we've had guys that do that at 95 [mph], and we had [Mark] Buehrle that did it at 83. Buehrle at one time was 88, 89 or 90. Then, for the last three or four years, he was 82 or 83, but he still found a way to do it. That's what I think he needs.

"It doesn't matter what you throw. You still have to pitch," Cooper said. "He's not good enough in his heyday when he was going good to say, 'Here's my fastball and I'm going to blow it by you every time.' He was pitching, but I think he needs a little bit more pitch ability in case his stuff doesn't come back the way it was."

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.

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