GLENDALE, Ariz. — As fifth starters go, the White Sox could do a lot worse than the serviceable John Danks.
As highest-paid players go, they could do better, and therein lies the source of frustration for fans, many of who rolled their eyes upon hearing Danks got hit around for three runs in the first two innings of the Sox’ Cactus League opener Thursday.
“I’d be lying to you if I said it hasn’t been frustrating the last couple of years,’’ Danks said after throwing 45 pitches in a 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. “That’s a given. But I’m not the first guy to have to make some adjustments. I feel like I can do better than I have the last couple years and have shown flashes in the second half in general last year. If I can roll that into this year, make the adjustments we’re hoping to make, I think my struggles will be something of the past.’’
Danks might vary pitch selection in certain counts and situations to become less predictable. His ERA in the 4.70s in each of his last three seasons was one full run higher than the ERA numbers he posted from 2008-10, numbers which helped him earn a five-year, $65 million contract that runs out at the end of the season.
There seems to be little reason to be alarmed over a two-inning outing on March 3. If anything, it seemed to suggest the likelihood of Danks being who he’s been since surgery remains strong.
‘The best way to describe it is testing the water, getting back out there, getting comfortable on the mound and see what you need to work on,’’ Danks said after his outing.
“I feel fine. Definitely not as nearly sharp as I’d like to be but I don’t think anybody is at this point. I feel like I’m on pace for where I need to be.’’
Danks gave up RBI singles to Yasiel Puig and Yasmani Grandal in the first inning and a homer to Alex Guerrero in the second. He allowed four hits, walked one and struck out one.
“He made some mistakes and paid for them,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.
Walk this way
High-energy newcomer Brett Lawrie, who drew 28 walks last season, showed patience and walked twice Thursday.
“Personality-wise it doesn’t fit, but I think that’s something he has to improve on in his game, and I think he will,’’ Ventura said. “If you look at him and meet him, it doesn’t go hand in hand, so it’s nice to see.’’
We’ve seen this movie
The emphasis on the offseason and the spring will be improved offense, so mustering three hits was no way to get things started in the Cactus League. In their defense, the Sox’ first spin through the batting order was against Clayton Kershaw. New catcher Dioner Navarro, one of GM Rick Hahn’s offensive upgrades, hit two singles including one against Kershaw, and Jerry Sands had the other. A trio of newcomers, Brett Lawrie (walk), Sands (double) and Todd Frazier (sacrifice fly) did produce the Sox’ run in the sixth.
“I mean, you’re facing Kershaw, so to see that the first game out of the gate, it’s always tough,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “But it’s one game. I still like where our guys are at and what they’re doing. So I’m not going to make too much of this.’’
Jerry, Jerry, Jerry
Sands also showed some defense, closing ground in the gap and throwing a runner out at second and also making a running catch to his right on the warning track before slamming into the fence. Sands is trying to make the team as an extra outfielder.
Eaton “getting there”
Adam Eaton (0-for-3) will DH for a while as he builds strength in his throwing shoulder. Prospect Jacob May (former Sox Carlos May’s nephew) got the start in center field and J.B. Shuck will get plenty of reps, too. Eaton is “getting there,’’ Ventura said.
“He can throw, it’s just not what you would really want a guy to go out there and throw from center field. We’re trying to protect that.’’
A moment of silence was observed in honor of Eddie Einhorn, who died on Feb. 23.
*Kameron Loe, a 34-year-old right-hander who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013, was signed to a minor league deal and sent to minor league camp.
*Individual 2016 game tickets to Sox home games go on sale to the general public Friday at 10 a.m. on whitesox.com, the U.S. Cellular Field box office or by calling 866-SOX-GAME.
*The Sox will once again offer each member of the Chicago Fire and Police Departments two free tickets, from a list of 15 select games, beginning Monday at the U.S. Cellular Field Ticket Office. Department identification and badges are reuired to claim the tickets. The deadline is May 13.