John Danks said he understands the White Sox’ decision to let him go.

“It’s a win-now league, and I wasn’t helping the team win,” Danks said Wednesday, a day after the club said it was releasing him.

Off to an 0-4 start with an 7.25 ERA on a team that has lost only eight games through May 3, Danks was cut loose and will be replaced in the starting rotation by Erik Johnson on Thursday. The 31-year-old veteran lost velocity on his fastball and was never the same after going through shoulder surgery in 2012.

“I’m not the first guy to go through surgery,” Danks said. “I obviously thought I could beat it — I think I can — but it’s no secret I wasn’t the same guy I was before surgery.

“I thought I worked as hard as I could. I put myself in the best position, I just wasn’t physically ready to do it nearly as much as I was before surgery.”

Danks said he will continue to work out and hope another team gives him another shot.

“If the phone rings I’ll be certainly interested,” he said. “If it doesn’t for some reason, it’s been a helluva run. I can say I got to play nine seasons in the big leagues, especially with one team, in a badass city like Chicago. I don’t have any regrets, I worked as hard as I know how to and did my very best every time out and that’s really all I could promise. … there certainly still is a desire to play. Now it’s up to someone wanting me or not.”

Danks had an inkling in the days that followed that his rotation spot was in jeopardy after he gave up 11 hits, including two home runs, in a 10-2 loss to the Orioles that stopped a six-game Sox winning streak in Baltimore Thursday. But he thought the likely move was to the bullpen. The Sox, knowing Danks had not pitched as a reliever, didn’t see the wisdom in changing the look of what has been the American League’s top pen.

As abrupt as the end came, it wasn’t a big shock.

“You can’t really be caught that off guard,” Danks said.
“The team is hot, the team is playing well. That’s obvious and you can’t go out there with four-fifths of a rotation, I totally understand that. It all starts with starting pitching, we’ve been told that since we were young. In order to win this thing, you have to have five starters giving you a shot every night out. Unfortunately I wasn’t doing that in April.”
 Danks pitched in the “Blackout Game” of 2008, the one-game tiebreaker for the AL Central title against the Minnesota Twins. The Sox won 1-0, and he finished 12-9 with a 3.32 ERA that season, then won his only career playoff start against the Rays in the American League Division Series. He signed a $65 million, five-year contract extension in December, 2011. He had shoulder surgery in August, 2012.
Danks was the longest-tenured member of the Sox, arriving in December 2006 in a trade with the Texas Rangers. A first-round pick by the Rangers in 2003 (ninth overall), he was acquired along with pitchers Nick Masset and Jake Rasner for pitcher Brandon McCarthy and outfielder David Paisano.
Danks, who is still owed close to $12 million on the final year of his contract, said he will miss Chicago with fond memories despite the tough times.

“I grew up there,” he said. “Showed up as a baby, I was 21 years old when I made my first start and left as a 31-year-old man. I got to play with a lot of awesome teammates that have become lifelong friends now. Met a lot of people in a great organization.

“I certainly had a lot of good times, some tough times, some struggles but all in all I got to live a dream. Got to play a game, and yeah, I’m a very blessed man, no doubt.”