07/31/12 8:40 PM ET
Danks to have season-ending surgery
Left-hander expects to be fully healthy by start of Spring Training
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
The 27-year-old starting pitcher will be shut down for the season, and Dr. Tony Romeo and Dr. Gregory Nicholson, considered the shoulder specialists, are set to lead the surgical team with assistance from Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph and Dr. Nick Verma. As White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider explained Tuesday, doctors will explore to see what the problem is and then they will fix whatever problem is found.
Danks' injury, diagnosed as a left shoulder sprain, has kept him off the mound for the White Sox since beating the Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 19. Schneider said that the problem is still considered a strain, but there might be something else going on that they aren't seeing.
"It's disappointing for him, I know that," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Danks' scheduled surgery at Rush University Surgical Center in Chicago. "But in the long run, you find out what it is and take care of it. That's the biggest thing."
"Obviously, this whole time, this has been the absolute last resort," Danks said. "We've been going on 8-9 weeks, and we haven't made improvements that we hoped and thought would be making. You do what you got to do. And we got to the point where we couldn't help start thinking about next year and cutting our losses this year and try to be ready by spring."
This same sentiment concerning surgery was expressed by Danks to MLB.com on Saturday in Texas, when the southpaw spoke about not wanting to get "cut on," but if what they were doing wasn't working, then other options had to be explored. As Schneider pointed out, Danks is not in any sort of dire pain other than trying to throw a baseball.
That skill just happens to be the way Danks earns his living. He has tried everything possible to fight his way back, undergoing more tests than could be imagined, and doing a yeoman's job of trying to get healthy enough to pitch and bounce back after his starts. Danks just can't do it presently.
So, the plug was pulled on the comeback trail and surgery became the option.
"I got to a point where I was well enough to pitch in a rehab start and felt good. I had good enough stuff. I was just having trouble coming back, bouncing back," said Danks, who made an injury rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte covering four innings on June 12. "The next couple days, it was a struggle to even play catch and that's not normal for me.
"Just definitely something there, something going on and we got to a point where you got to do what you got to do. And it's unfortunate you have to do this, but I definitely trust these doctors. These guys were my first choice, for sure, not only with their track record but they've been on board since the first step, so it's worked out as well as it possibly can with the work Hermie and [assistant athletic trainer] Brian Ball have done for me, certainly the doctors. I anticipate it going perfect and being ready for Spring Training."
With the Minor League season coming to a close in the first week of September, Aug. 1 was the deadline set by the doctors in order for Danks to have a normal chance at building up shoulder strength through rehab starts. But Danks talked with his family over the weekend in Texas, and they decided this was the right time for surgery with a focus of being ready at the start of Spring Training '13.
"Again, to get him able and be ready to pitch at this level and be effective and do all the things he will feel confident going out there, time was getting a little short for that," Ventura said.
"When all of the questions are asked and it comes down to is it this or that ... ," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "For it to come down to we don't know and we have to look. You exhaust all those avenues before you go into somebody's shoulder and elbow."
As Danks begins the recovery after surgery, he won't be going on the road with the White Sox. He does hope to be around the 2012 team for many more weeks to come.
"These guys are playing well enough this year without me and getting [Francisco]) Liriano certainly helps," said Danks, who agreed to a five-year, $65 million extension prior to this season but finished 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA over nine starts. "There's plenty here now that me being out isn't going to kill this team.
"I'll be a cheerleader for the next two months. Three months, hopefully."