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Danks ready to begin Minors rehab assignment

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CHICAGO -- The next step on John Danks' comeback trail will be traveled soon by the southpaw.

After throwing six innings and 87 pitches in his final extended spring start on Friday in Arizona, Danks will be moving to one of the White Sox Minor League affiliates this week to begin his rehab assignment. Danks had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder last Aug. 6, and despite intense offseason work, he did not break camp with the team so he could work on improving his velocity and location.

While this upcoming stint certainly will take more than one or two Minor League starts, Danks is moving closer to a big league return.

"We're going to really monitor him a little closer now, because he's a hop, skip and a jump possibly from being back in the big leagues," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. "The question that John's going to have to answer -- and he'll have that answer before anybody else, he'll know better than anybody else, and we talked about this, John and I -- the question is, 'Are you ready to go win a Major League game?'

"He knows what it takes to win here. He knows what he's got to have equipment wise and stuff wise. And that's what we're trying to hone in on now. We're getting down to it. And he's got a little bit more to climb."

An exact date and place for Danks' first rehab start will be announced later.

"It's time for him to get out [of Arizona]," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Hopefully it keeps being a step closer to being ready to pitch and being healthy."

"Hopefully that climb continues. He's already ahead of schedule," Cooper said. "This is something we didn't want to rush. He's not even a year past surgery, but the final preparation is underway."

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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