John Danks started throwing off a mound two weeks ago as he attempts to come back from August shoulder surgery and the White Sox left-hander told Scott Merkin of MLB.com that his arm “feels great.”
“Being on the mound for a little bit of time, I feel better about things than I did before,” Danks said. “There’s still a ways to go. I haven’t spun anything or seen a hitter. But my shoulder feels great off the mound. We are getting there. I’m throwing pretty hard off the mound, not just wobbling it. So I can’t complain.”
According to Merkin he’s been throwing 40 pitches off a mound three days per week, with mostly fastballs and some changeups. Barring any setbacks it’s possible Danks could be fully healthy for spring training, although his missing the beginning of the season wouldn’t be a surprise.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.