GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dioner Navarro was asked if the way John Danks has been tipping his pitches was pretty obvious to him.
“I’m 9-for-18 in my career off him,” Navarro said with a smile.
Danks continued a nice stretch with six scoreless innings Wednesday, two starts after the veteran catcher suggested a pre-delivery movement allowed hitters to know what was coming. Avisail Garcia homered and singled in a run of support for Danks, who struck out six in a 6-1 White Sox victory over the San Diego Padres.
Danks has pitched 12 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings since Navarro tipped him off that he might be tipping.
“I was getting ready to roll an L screen out there,” Danks said. “Dioner has been around. He’s seen me. He’s faced me. If he identifies something, I don’t need to go look at it. I trust him. He told me exactly what I was doing. We fixed it, and it hasn’t been an issue since.”
Navarro believes the issue was how Danks positioned his glove against his stomach before certain pitches. Navarro — who is actually 11-for-26 with three doubles, three homers and five RBIs against Danks — informed his teammate what he thought he saw after Danks allowed eight runs between the second and third innings of his March 13 start against Arizona.
Danks has kept his glove still ever since. He closed the Arizona start with 1 1/3 scoreless frames and hasn’t been scored upon since he made the change. He also has struck out 13 batters in 11 innings in his past two starts.
“I just noticed it the last start he had,” Navarro said. “That’s my job.
“It kinda makes me a little proud that he kinda took notice and worked on it.”
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That’s not the only reason for Danks’ recent success.
He has grown more comfortable with the mechanical adjustments that he and pitching coach Don Cooper have worked on, which includes stressing better arm-side command, something Danks has identified as a past weakness.
“He’s getting ahead,” Navarro said. “That’s the No. 1 thing. Obviously, everyone knows he’s not an overpower guy, he’s a paint guy. So if he gets ahead, he’s got a great shot. If he falls behind, it’s going to be a little bit harder. But we still gotta do what we gotta do.”
Danks thinks he knows what he has to do to once again find success after a handful of rough seasons. He likes how he has been able to throw the ball where he wants it of late. He knows he needs to rely on better command to get by, and that’s why he has tried to improve throwing the ball inside to left-handers and away to righties.
“Lot of focus on arm side,” Danks said. “The goal is to put myself to be in a position that is as consistent as possible, and it starts with the mechanics and I think we’re definitely comfortable with it at this point. It’s something we’re going to harp on all summer I’m sure.”
If this success carries over he’ll probably owe Navarro a dinner or two, too. Danks said he has convinced himself that’s why Arizona put up the crooked numbers against him and feels good with his work. He also appreciates that Navarro told him when he did.
“I might still be pitching against Arizona if he didn’t tell me that,” Danks said.