Kicking habit improves Danks' health

Kicking habit improves Danks' health

CHICAGO -- About a month ago, John Danks began experiencing circulation problems in his left index finger.

He didn't know exactly how it happened, but he wanted to make sure one of his bad habits wasn't a contributing factor. So, the White Sox lefty kicked his routine of chewing tobacco.

Tobacco use can be known to have a hand in circulatory problems.

Since that time, the circulation issue has subsided. And while Danks still isn't sure whether his tobacco use had anything to do it, he isn't taking any chances.

"I think it's something that it probably didn't help, but I'm over a month now without a dip, and it was something I wanted to do even before the finger problem," Danks said. "But definitely it's a battle for me to quit, but I feel like I'm past the worst, and it really is a big accomplishment for me to be able to quit."

Danks will take the mound on Saturday night against Orioles right-hander David Hernandez in the second game of a three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox enter play Saturday 3 1/2 games back of the Tigers in the American League Central standings.

Danks, 24, initially experienced problems with blisters during a start against the Twins on July 10. In that game, he walked the first four batters he faced. Those blister issues manifested themselves into the circulatory problem in his left index finger, causing him to miss a start.

He underwent tests, including checking for blood clots, to determine the extent of the circulation problem, but nothing showed up. Given a clean bill of health, Danks returned to the mound on July 27, and has been back on schedule ever since. Saturday will mark his sixth straight start in the rotation.

He has been especially effective in his past two outings, throwing a combined 15 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs with 11 strikeouts and two walks.

Danks cited improved fastball command for his recent success on the hill.

"I'm not walking as many guys, and I'm being a lot more efficient," Danks said. "That's kind of been the goal all along and for whatever reason, I've struggled to do that. But I feel great now, and hopefully we can keep it rolling."

Danks, who noted that he began dipping in the Minor Leagues, said he thought he could tell a slight difference in his health as a result of his kicking the habit.

"I mean, I can a little bit," Danks said. "I don't know. It's just something I wanted to do, for other reasons, and it just happened to work out where this might have had something to do with that, I don't know. It is nice to be over it."

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen applauded Danks for his ability to stick with his initial desire to quit.

"It's an addiction," Guillen said. "And I tip my hat to him. Because when you're addicted to something, it's hard to give it up. When you don't quit doing this, you have a chance to die. That opens your eyes. I think it's great that kids know about this. I know it's great that people know about this guy doing this. I talked to him and said, 'You should go out to schools and baseball teams to talk about this, what's your problem and why.'

"To have this kid overcome that situation, it's not easy to do," Guillen added. "And he's doing it, and I'm very, very glad for him."

Pitching matchup
CWS: LHP John Danks (10-8, 3.96 ERA)
Danks put together his second successive solid start in a no-decision against the A's on Sunday, allowing two runs on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. He left with the lead, but an inherited runner scored to take away the decision. Danks hasn't performed nearly at well at home lately, but he did beat the Orioles on July 17 and is 3-2 with a 4.21 ERA lifetime against them.

BAL: RHP David Hernandez (4-5, 4.20 ERA)
Hernandez fell victim to the long ball in his last start, giving up three home runs, five runs overall, to fall to 4-5 this season. Hernandez lasted 5 1/3 innings, issuing four walks with one strikeout.

Tidbits
The White Sox lost for just the 10th time in their past 29 home games in Friday's 5-1 defeat against the Orioles. Chicago also did not hold a lead at any point in the game for just the second time in its past 12 contests. ... Gavin Floyd lost his first home start since April 24, against the Blue Jays. He allowed four or more runs in a home start for the second time this season. ... Three of Jim Thome's four career hits off Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie have been home runs, including Friday's solo shot to center in the fourth inning. ... Scott Podsednik was picked off for the fourth time this season Friday.

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Up next
• Sunday: White Sox (Mark Buehrle, 11-6, 3.78) vs. Orioles (Jason Berken, 2-11, 6.72), 1:05 p.m. CT
• Monday: White Sox (Freddy Garcia, 0-1, 10.38) at Red Sox (TBD), 6:10 p.m. CT
• Tuesday: White Sox (TBD) at Red Sox (TBD), 6:10 p.m. CT

Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.