Danks looks to '16 with optimism about health

Left-hander seeks bigger success in final year of contract

Danks looks to '16 with optimism about health

CHICAGO -- John Danks understands his statistics won't back up his comments, but the veteran southpaw feels as close to pre-2012 surgery form as he has in the past three seasons.

"Really, every year I've started to feel a little better," Danks said prior to Friday's series opener with the Twins. "This year took a bigger jump than I had to that point.

"I'm excited. I feel like when I was going into surgery, the idea was maybe change my philosophy for lack of a better way of explaining it. Be more [Mark] Buehrle-like I heard. I tried that, did that, had some success, had some failure with it.

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"But the ultimate goal was to hopefully get my stuff back, the actual fastball and a little more bite on breaking balls," Danks said. "Then use that with the knowledge I gained from pitching with less stuff. I feel like going into next year and even with the second half this year, that started to emerge a little bit. I think this can only get better."

Per fangraphs.com, the 30-year-old's fastball velocity has risen from 88.6 mph in '14 to 89.5 this season. He's also featuring the curve and even the changeup more than he has in the past.

Danks will take the mound Monday at home against the A's working on nine days' rest since his last victory at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. He has a 7-12 record and 4.60 ERA over 154 2/3 innings, with a 1.377 WHIP, which is somewhat commensurate with his previous two years' numbers post-surgery.

Those results aren't exactly representative of a pitcher who agreed to a five-year, $65 million deal prior to the 2012 season. Danks feels the angst of not living up to that contract, but he hopes the development and growth post-surgery will help him salvage the final season in 2016.

"I would say that as a whole, it hasn't gone how I had hoped and thought it would. But with that said, it hasn't been from a lack of trying," he said. "There is certainly some disappointment.

"You feel a little like you are letting people down to get hurt so soon afterwards and having been pretty much a shell of myself for a couple of years. There's nothing I can do about it. I feel terrible about it. I didn't want it to go that way.

"But there's still plenty of time to maybe try to salvage a little bit of it," Danks said. "Like I said, I'm very confident going into next year. Excited about the progress I've made and we'll see what happens."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.