CHICAGO -- The question has been asked numerous times since Spring Training began as to what sort of pitcher John Danks will top out at now that he is approaching two years removed from season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery in August 2012.
Will the southpaw look virtually unhittable, as he did over eight scoreless innings Saturday against the Yankees, or will he be closer to the pitcher who couldn't escape mistakes in his previous 4 2/3-inning, seven-run outing against the Astros? Maybe he'll check in somewhere in between, in the middle of the White Sox rotation behind Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
That discussion seems to have reached everyone but the 29-year-old hurler.
"My job is to take the ball every fifth day and give us a chance to win," Danks said. "Hopefully, that's the guy I am and the guy that is counted on to eat innings, along with giving us a real chance to win every time out."
Danks admits to losing "a tick on the fastball" and to not throwing his cutter nearly as hard as he did when working at least 195 innings, making at least 30 starts, winning at least 10 games and posting an ERA of 3.77 or lower from 2008-10. He doesn't see a reason why he can't get back to that level, especially as a more informed, more comfortable pitcher at this stage of his career.
"Comfortable throwing any pitch in any situation," Danks said. "I think back to then, I relied mainly on stuff and now I'm having to do a lot more homework, if you will, before starts and looking at scouting reports. I'm doing certain things there.
"It takes a little more. There was a day where I wouldn't even look at a scouting report. I would just go out there and pitch and it would be solely on stuff.
"Now, I have to do a little more to be prepared," Danks said. "It's fun. I've gotten to enjoy it. It's actually fun to have a plan against a guy rather than just trying to play chicken with him, if you will."
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.