GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Thursday's three-inning scoreless effort for John Danks against the Mariners simply marked the southpaw's first 2014 Cactus League appearance, with his scheduled debut rained out last Saturday.
But Danks already noticed a significant difference in comparison to his 22 starts from 2013, when he was making a comeback from arthroscopic shoulder surgery in August 2012. That difference centers on his cutter.
"We actually worked on throwing it to both sides of the plate, and that was effective," Danks said. "It was around the zone, had a sharp break on it. That's where I expected to be at this point. Keep on improving, but I'm really pleased with how it was so far."
As far as specific refinement with the cutter, Danks said it was about strengthening and "being able to get my arm where it needs to be, and have enough behind it to spin it right and make it move."
"Last year, I had trouble spinning it, and it was backing up on me and getting hit," Danks said. "This year, I'm able to drive the ball where I want, and that was proved being able to throw it to both sides of the plate with the sharp break on it."
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.