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Danks focuses on cutter in second spring after surgery

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- John Danks never worried about his velocity during Spring Trainings prior to last year, a 2013 season in which he couldn't help but look at the speed reading to somewhat gauge progress made after season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery in August '12.

He won't worry about velocity when he takes the mound for Cactus League action this March, with his first start coming Saturday at home against the Indians. Instead, the focus for the left-handed veteran is on getting his cutter back in shape.

"That was the pitch I felt I struggled with the most last year," said Danks. "It wasn't nearly as sharp. It wasn't going to where I wanted it to go. I think being able to spin it a little more consistent, a little easier, it will help certainly."

For the record, Danks' average fastball velocity dipped from 91.6 mph in 2011 to 90.1 in '12 to 89.3 last year, according to Fangraphs. With as strong as Danks has felt through the first week of camp, that velocity figures to see an upturn in '14.

If there's not a noticeable immediate change, though, it won't be a deal breaker in regard to Danks' hope for success.

"I'm more worried about being able to throw the ball where I want," Danks said. "Obviously I anticipate [velocity] being back and would love it to be right back there. That's something that's not going to kill me if it's not. Being able to spin the ball and make the cutter be a lot sharper and more consistent is more important."

Rave reviews have come in for Danks during Week 1, from how he looks on the mound to how the ball is coming out of his hand to his physical health. But the White Sox have yet to even play an intrasquad game.

Facing opposing hitters stands as the next step for Danks as he reasserts himself in the rotation.

"I've passed the beginning test, and now it's going out there and facing another team," Danks said. "It doesn't mean I'm going to strike everybody out or throw perfect innings, but just being able to feel good and throw the ball where I want is more important."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
Read More: Chicago White Sox, John Danks