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Reliever Donnie Veal looking to build on strong 2012

Chicago White Sox pitcher Donnie Veal throws during baseball game against MinnesotTwins Sunday Sept. 16 2012 Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Chicago White Sox pitcher Donnie Veal throws during a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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Updated: March 20, 2013 6:36AM

GLENDALE, Ariz. — After making 24 appearances and posting a 1.38 ERA in 2012, Donnie Veal would seem to have a secure spot as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen.

But Veal, a second-round draft choice of the Cubs in 2005 whose only big-league experience before coming to the Sox last season was a 19-appearance stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009, is taking nothing for granted.

‘‘I still feel like I’m fighting for a job,’’ Veal, 28, said. ‘‘Until [pitching coach Don Cooper] or [manager] Robin [Ventura] or [general manager] Rick Hahn tells me, ‘You’re on the team; the flight leaves at 8 a.m.,’ I’m not going to let up at all. It’s still competition. I know how it goes. I’ve been doing this awhile.’’

Veal has battled through his share of injuries, including a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow that limited him in 2010 and 2011. Signed as a free agent in November 2011, Veal posted a 2.08 ERA in 52 innings of relief at
Class AAA Charlotte last season before the Sox called him up.

Veal retired the first 27 lefties he faced last season and pitched in some big spots down the stretch. He said he took an important step when he started attacking the strike zone instead of nibbling.

‘‘I’m just trying to build off of [2012] and start it up again this year from the beginning,’’ Veal said. ‘‘Just trusting in my stuff, pounding the strike zone and not being too fine was a big difference for me.’’

Ready or not

If left-hander John Danks makes the Opening Day roster, it won’t be as a five-inning starter with the bullpen getting up early.

‘‘I’m not thinking that way,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘If he’s going to be pitching, he’s going to be healthy enough to go. Even last year, there were times he wasn’t feeling great. But coming from what he’s coming off of, I want him feeling really good before he goes out there.’’

Player’s manager

Slugger Adam Dunn got turned around with Ventura as manager last season, and there’s no doubt Ventura’s mild manner suits Dunn’s similar demeanor.

‘‘He’s exactly what we thought we were getting when we met him,’’ Dunn said. ‘‘He never changed. He’s the kind of manager who adds years to your playing career. People really enjoy playing for a guy like him. I don’t know a better compliment to give him than that.’’

This and that

Ventura said there were no dead arms or serious aches and pains to report after the second day of full-squad workouts.

† Outfielder Alex Rios will leave for Puerto Rico to prepare for the World Baseball Classic on
March 3. Puerto Rico hosts a first-round bracket of the tournament March 7-10. Rios turned 32 on Monday.

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