Danks' experience shaping his approach on mound

Danks' experience shaping his approach on mound

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- John Danks was asked the difference between himself as a pitcher now and a few years ago following his two-inning start in Thursday's Cactus League contest against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.

"About six miles an hour," said a smiling Danks.

Not only was Danks' response humorous, but it also pointed out the left-handed veteran's understanding of what he needs to do to be successful. Gone are the days of Danks simply being able to rely on his stuff to succeed. The Danks who emerged following season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery in August 2012 also stands as a more knowledgeable hurler.

"There are situations in the past where I would have gripped a four-seam fastball, reared back and thrown it down the middle and seen what happened," Danks said. "I can't do that anymore. I have to be a little smarter and locate a lot better."

"It's a sneaky fastball, so it needs to be down," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Danks' pitching style. "Guys are hunting for that fastball. Nobody really wants to hit his changeup unless it's hanging. The lower he is in the zone, the more effective he's going to be. He's going to get guys chasing, and it's a big thing for him this year."

Danks yielded hits to the first two Dodgers on Thursday: a Joc Pederson single and a Darwin Barney double. He then proceeded to retire the next six batters, feeling comfortable employing the lower arm angle and lower leg kick upon delivery that started working for him last September.

"Definitely there's plenty to be worked on, and [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] and I noticed some things today," said Danks, who threw 21 of his 32 pitches for strikes. "It felt good. It felt like that's where I need to be.

"I'm now having to be a little smarter and trying to keep the ball in the ballpark. That's a big thing for me. Trying to get as many ground balls and weak contact as we can. If we are able to do that, it will be a good year."

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.