White Sox are healthy again, in ready-to-go mode
BY TONI GINNETTI email@example.com March 29, 2013 11:22PM
Alexei Ramirez (hitting a double in the second) was back in the lineup Friday against the Brewers. | Jeffrey Phelps~AP
Updated: May 1, 2013 3:45PM
MILWAUKEE — Playing in Miller Park against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night might have been part of the exhibition schedule, but the game gave the White Sox their first taste of real baseball this season.
And that was exactly what they wanted.
“It’s one of things where I’m ready to get going,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s on everyone’s mind. They’re just ready to start and play.
“Guys are optimistic about Opening Day and how that all goes. And I’m the same way. You just want to get going.’’
But there still were spring matters to tend to, including testing the health of shortstop Alexei Ramirez’s sore right biceps/shoulder and outfielder Alex Rios’ aching back.
Rios had missed almost a week. Ramirez went down on the last day of Cactus League play when he was hit by a pitch from Daisuke Matsuzaka. Both were in the lineup Friday.
The other health test would come on the mound. Reliever Jesse Crain made his second appearance after being sidelined by a right adductor strain. He allowed one hit in one inning, throwing seven of his 11 pitches for strikes.
‘‘We didn’t see his velocity in Arizona, but you could see it here,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He looked like himself. He looked ready.’’
Ventura said if Crain and Rios show no ill effects Saturday, ‘‘They’ll be good to go.’’
Rios felt good about testing not only his swing, but his legs on the bases. He had a single and two walks and scored twice.
‘‘I got to see a lot of pitches, and that was my goal,’’ Rios said. ‘‘I wanted to see as many pitches as I could and work from there. And I had to run a lot tonight, too, and that assured me I felt good.’’
Crain’s status is the Sox’ final roster decision before Opening Day. It will seal a spring that lasted long but gave Ventura a chance to weigh many options.
This week, third baseman Jeff Keppinger has worked at first base, and backup catcher Hector Gimenez has seen more playing time.
“We have a lot of moving pieces,’’ Ventura said. “If we get in a situation with an injury, if we start moving guys around, we can move Kep to first base if we want to. It was for him to know it can happen.
“He’s played second. He can play everywhere. There are options we have.’’
Injuries aren’t things teams want to think about, but they are realities of the game. Getting through the spring with a healthy team has been a positive.
“You see what happened to Alexei the last day in Arizona,’’ Ventura said. “That stuff can happen. You just want to get everyone to the season. If something happens then, it happens. But when it happens in spring training, it seems different. You want to see guys at least get off to a start.’’
NOTES: Jake Peavy will join the team Saturday in Milwaukee after staying in Arizona on Thursday. He threw on the side to stay on schedule for his first start.
◆ The players welcomed a day off Thursday at home before the drive north to Milwaukee. “Guys were able to get settled a little,’’ Robin Ventura said.
WHITE SOX 7, BREWERS 2
FIRST CHANCE: Alexei Ramirez didn’t have to wait long to test his arm Friday. Brewers leadoff man Norichika Aoki grounded to the shortstop, who double-clutched but still threw Aoki out. In his first at-bat, Ramirez doubled to the wall in left field in the second. He was charged with an error in the fourth on Aoki’s bad-hop grounder that went into center field.
BACK TO FEELING GOOD: Alex Rios hit a deep fly to center in his first at-bat in more than five days because of back stiffness. He walked in the fourth and singled in the fifth.
HEC(TOR) OF AN OUTING: Hector Santiago was flawless in three innings, not allowing a hit and striking out five.
DUNN THAT: Adam Dunn singled inside the third-base line in the second and doubled home two runs in the fifth, his 11th and 12th RBI of the spring.
LOOKING READY: Jesse Crain pitched one inning, giving up a slow-rolling infield hit to third to Alex Gonzalez before striking out Carlos Gomez and getting a double-play ground ball from Jean Segura. Crain threw 11 pitches, seven for strikes.
INTERLEAGUE INTRIGUE: The Sox used a designated hitter in Miller Park, but the Brewers had their pitchers bat, per National League rules. With 15 teams in each league after the Astros’ move to the American League, interleague play will take place every day of the season. The Sox’ first interleague series begins April 9 in Washington against the Nationals.
ON DECK: The Sox play the Brewers on Saturday at 1:05 p.m., with Gavin Floyd facing Chris Narveson.