Notes: Danks impresses in debut

Notes: Danks impresses in debut

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Just the mere mention of John Danks' name brought a smile to manager Buck Showalter's face.

Danks is one of the Rangers' premier prospects in their farm system, which is stocked with quality arms. Danks was the ninth player picked in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of Round Rock, Texas, and is a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

He threw two hitless innings on Sunday against the Brewers, although he walked two in the Rangers' 9-8 loss. When first asked about Danks after the game, Showalter tried to deflect the attention.

"Let's talk about Vinny," Showalter said of Rangers starter Vicente Padilla.

It was, however, impossible to ignore Danks' first outing. Without being asked again, Showalter turned back to Danks in his postgame media session.

"He was crisp," Showalter said. "He's pretty impressive. He has got a good arm."

Showalter even repeated the words "pretty impressive." Pitching coach Mark Connor, also, used "impressive."

"You know what I like," Connor said. "He threw two shutout innings in his first Major League game ever and he wasn't happy cause he felt like he overthrew and didn't locate. He's a young man that I've been impressed with all spring."

Danks is the youngest pitcher in camp, not turning 21 until April 15. How good would Danks have to be this March for the Rangers to consider breaking camp with him?

"I don't even want to start to go down that road," Connor said.

The reality is no matter how impressive Danks throws in Spring Training, the Rangers want him to get more seasoning. While he has a tremendous arm and a sky-is-the-limit ceiling, he was just 4-10 with a 5.49 ERA in 18 games last season with Double-A Frisco.

Padilla shines: Padilla, like Danks, did not allow a hit in two innings and walked one in his initial start.

"He was good, too," Showalter said. "The guy comes over to a new club and you like to see him get off to a clean start. He was solid. It was a good first step for him."

The Rangers acquired Padilla in a December trade with the Phillies.

"I was happy with Padilla," Connor said. "He got through two innings, no problem. He threw strikes for the most part. His mechanics were a little off, but he still got through it. It is the first time out for these guys."

Going, going, gone: Brad Wilkerson hit a solo shot out to right in the first inning off a changeup from left-hander Doug Davis, a former Ranger. The Rangers picked up Wilkerson in a four-player trade on Dec. 12 with the Nationals.

"It was a good pretty good swing and the ball flew out," Showalter said. "Brad is a good hitter. He's had a little success against left-handed pitchers. He's a fine player. He fits right in. He's got a solid approach. We're happy to have him."

Cordero progresses: Francisco Cordero, who has been brought along slowly in Spring Training because of a tender right shoulder, threw 40 pitches in a morning bullpen session.

"I let him throw some breaking balls today for the first time," Connor said. "He threw about eight breaking balls, not max effort, but getting over the top of them with no problem, so we'll continue along those lines."

Connor said the plan is for Cordero, who logged 49 saves last season, to throw 11 innings before breaking camp.

"In a perfect world, I'd like to start him out in a Minor League game and by the end of the spring get him some 'A' games to get his adrenaline popping a little bit," Connor said.

He said Cordero could be ready to pitch in a Minor League game "by maybe the end of week, the weekend or possibly early next week."

"He's not on the map for 'A' games for a lot of reasons," Showalter said. "Coco will get his innings."

Briefly: Kameron Loe is scheduled to start a "B" game Monday morning against the Royals. ... Hank Blalock has a tired arm and will not make the trip to Tucson. ... Kevin Millwood will throw a simulated game on Wednesday instead of pitching against the Athletics. The Rangers would rather not pitch him against a division rival they will play 10 times in the first two months of the season. ... Erubiel Durazo has joined the Mexico club for World Baseball Classic workouts in Tucson, but he will play first base on Monday for the Rangers against the Diamondbacks.

Upcoming: Right-hander Juan Dominguez, who was 4-6 with a 4.22 ERA in 22 games, including 10 starts, last season for the Rangers, will start on Monday against the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks will counter with Russ Ortiz.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.