John Danks returned to game action this afternoon for the first time since he required season-ending shoulder surgery last August. After limiting the Giants to one run — a solo homer by Joaquin Arias — over two innings, the 27-year-old southpaw expressed relief to Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.
“This is the first hurdle,” Danks said. “Obviously the couple of weeks leading up to this was important. But the first game, get that out of the way and we really start focusing on the pitching side of things. Just excited to get back out there and see what kind of improvements I can make from now.”
Danks worked in the 85-89 mph range with his fastball while one scout described his stuff as “fair.” However, the White Sox aren’t focused on his velocity at this point, as he’s still in the process of building up arm strength. For what it’s worth, he has typically sat in the low-90s with his fastball during his career.
Danks owns a 4.12 ERA over six seasons in the majors, including a 5.70 ERA in nine starts last year. He is owed $14.25 million in each of the next four seasons.
The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.
Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.
While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.