Danks makes another Minors start, could return next week

Danks makes another Minors start, could return next week

ANAHEIM -- John Danks' fourth Minor League rehab start and third with Triple-A Charlotte ended Saturday night in Buffalo after 4 2/3 innings and 95 pitches, of which 51 were strikes.

Danks struck out five and allowed two earned runs on two hits. Despite his wildness, walking the based loaded in the fifth and finishing with four free passes overall, this figures to be his last Minor League appearance.

A big league comeback from season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery on Aug. 6 of last season would be complete with what would most likely be a start Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field against the Marlins. Either Hector Santiago, Saturday's starter here, or Dylan Axelrod would then move into the bullpen in a long-relief role. Axelrod is scheduled to start Monday at home against the Red Sox.

Manager Robin Ventura said Saturday that a six-man rotation briefly was discussed, but that option was not the chosen one. The same goes for splitting the fifth-starter spot between Santiago and Axelrod depending on matchups.

"It's not an easy decision," Ventura said. "But you look at it and weigh it and go from there."

Ventura isn't worried about having four left-handers in the rotation with Jake Peavy if Santiago gets the nod.

"That one is more how good they are," Ventura said. "They're all a little different, so that part doesn't bother me. They're good, first. And then we'll worry about with what hand they throw.

"I've seen teams in the past that have had many lefties in the rotation, but they were good. It's different. You see it around the league because you don't see lefties that are all that good in the same rotation."

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.