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Lefty Danks nears recovery milestone

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitching in a Cactus League game doesn't always register as a career milestone for a veteran with six years of big league experience, not to mention 57 victories.

For White Sox southpaw John Danks, Monday's start at Camelback Ranch against the Giants quite possibly could be his biggest trip to the mound in the last two years. He took another step in his comeback from Aug. 6 arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder with a two-inning, 50-pitch live batting practice Wednesday morning, facing Trayce Thompson, Conor Gillaspie, Stefan Gartrell and his brother, Jordan.

"There are hitters here, but those are your teammates. You're working on things. They got an idea of what you're trying to do," said Danks after the live BP. "You get in a game, I'm going to try to get you out.

"That will be fun, be fun to see how hitters react to your stuff. It will be kind of a milestone in this process to get back in a game."

Danks threw 25 pitches at one of the back practice fields, stopped for a bit to confer with pitching coach Don Cooper and bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen and then threw another 25 pitches. He focused on his breaking ball, threw cutters and even mixed in a few changeups.

His arm strength has improved since the start of camp, although it's not quite where it needs to be. That fact isn't too different from starters who entered camp healthy.

"I don't know about a number, but it's definitely getting better. So that makes me feel good about things," said Danks of his arm strength. "Also being able to come out and do everything that's asked of me every day. Those are two things that have kept me optimistic about getting into the season.

"We all kind of agree I'm ready to move on and start concentrating on pitching and a little less about my shoulder or whatever. We're pretty confident that's behind us and we can just work to build arm strength and get a little more consistent in my delivery."

A Friday bullpen follows Tuesday's third and final live BP session, before Danks takes the mound on Monday.

"I'm on pace with everyone else, but I got a little ways to go," Danks said. "I just want it to be good enough to throw 120 pitches every five days.

"I've thrown just as many pitches as Jake [Peavy] and Chris [Sale] did the other day. So I'm on the program. They're not doing anything special for me."