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First time through White Sox rotation offers food for thought

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Since Chris Sale’s near-flawless start against the Dodgers to open Cactus League play, it has been a mixed bag for each White Sox starter.

Erik Johnson got his first one out of the way Tuesday against the Indians, giving up a run, two hits and a walk in three innings. It could have been worse, but Johnson isn’t one to go easy on himself.

‘‘I thought I could’ve done a little bit more with throwing first-pitch strikes and working ahead, but it was a good one to start off with,’’ he said. ‘‘Today was just to get my work in, use all my pitches, get out of there healthy and feel good about it.’’

Facing the Indians’ regular lineup, Johnson retired the first five batters before Asdrubal Cabrera’s pop fly landed inside the left-field line for a two-out double in the second. Yan Gomes then singled him home.

‘‘He’s got stuff, but he competes when he goes out there,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘Anytime you have that with his kind of stuff, you’re going to have a good pitcher.’’

Starts are downplayed early in spring triaining, but they do show something. Felipe Paulino gave up four runs and eight hits and couldn’t finish the second inning, and Jose Quintana allowed two runs in three innings.

‘‘You see sidelines and you see batting practice, but you really get to see more as a coach when a guy pitches in a game,’’ pitching coach Don Cooper said.

Each starter should have five scheduled starts left if everything goes according to plan, although Sale will have four with something simulated on the Sox’ day off March 20.

This and that

Early on, the Sox have ditched their tactic of not letting American League Central opponents face their starters. John Danks was going to face the Indians on Sunday but was rained out, and Johnson pitched against the Indians.

Johnson is on course to face the Indians again March 14, so a ‘‘B’’ game might be in order. Chris Beck will start against the Royals in a split-squad game Thursday, when Danks takes the ball against the Mariners.

† Relievers Daniel Webb
(death in family) and Ronald Belisario (visa problems) were still absent.

† Infielder Jeff Keppinger (sore right shoulder) got his first at-bat — he grounded out — and is scheduled to DH on Thursday.

† Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of Michael Jordan’s Cactus League debut with the Sox. He hit a tapper to Rangers pitcher Darren Oliver, who tagged him out.

† Captain Paul Konerko turns 38 on Wednesday.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CST_soxvan



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