Hudson, Torres sharp in 'B' game
Vying for bullpen spot, righties breeze; Cabrera struggles
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It was simply a 'B' game between the Dodgers and White Sox at Camelback Ranch, a Tuesday afternoon exhibition, of sorts, prior to Thursday's Cactus League opener for Ozzie Guillen's crew.
In the battle to win the White Sox seventh and final bullpen spot, though, there's never an off-day.
So, while Tuesday's effort won't count toward Cactus League statistics, Daniel Hudson certainly made a positive impression in his quest for a long-relief role. Hudson worked the third and fourth innings against the Dodgers, retiring all six batters he faced, with four coming via strikeout.
Hudson fanned two looking and two swinging, also setting down hitters on a ground ball to shortstop Brent Lillibridge and on a nice running catch made by Jordan Danks in right-center field. The soon-to-be 23-year-old, who burst on to the scene by jumping from Class A Kannapolis to the Majors in 2009, focused on throwing strikes in his first outing, but said after the game how important every trip to the mound can be this spring.
"I need to go game speed and show I'm ready to go," Hudson said. "I came in good shape. Some of these guys are better established. I need to show I have my best stuff in order to match up."
"Obviously, when you're first out of camp, you're going to see guys impress more than others, but those games count," Guillen said. "Hudson, from last year, we know what he can do. I got a message from [White Sox pitching coach Don] Cooper, he's the best one to throw the ball in camp right now. It didn't surprise me what he did."
Carlos Torres, who finds himself in the mix with Hudson for that same bullpen spot, hurled two scoreless innings and struck out one during the White Sox 4-2, seven-inning loss to the Dodgers. Bullpen hopeful Daniel Cabrera was tagged for four runs on three hits in one inning of relief and walked three.
The rally could have been worse were it not for a caught stealing at second base, courtesy of a strong throw from catcher Miguel Gonzalez. Cabrera had drawn rave reviews during his first week of camp coming off of a dismal 2009 showing, but could not find the plate on Tuesday.
Eight of his first nine pitches were out of the strike zone. He threw 27 pitches and only 11 went for strikes, a wild streak that has plagued him in the past.
"Understand, it has been a while, and I didn't do the things I wanted to do," Cabrera said. "I just have to keep working, and I'm getting into form now."
Guillen called Cabrera's effort "disappointing" but not because of the runs allowed.
"It was because he wasn't throwing the ball," Guillen said. "You're going to have very poor outings, and you're going to have good outings. To me, he wasn't throwing the ball with confidence. I don't know him and can't say anything because that's the first time he threw for us.
"He wasn't throwing the ball the way we think he can throw the ball. I don't see him loose on the mound. He's a veteran pitcher who just has to let it go. I don't see that."
Freddy Dolsi, Sergio Santos, Erick Threets and Jeff Marquez will have their chances to compete for the open spot with Cabrera, Hudson and Torres. Hudson could wind up as the best man for the job and still begin the season with Triple-A Charlotte, as the White Sox want to do what's best for the righty, whom they project as a starter in the Majors.
If he continues to pitch like he did on Tuesday, though, Hudson might be hard to overlook.
"Just throwing everything for strikes was the main thing I took out of today and can take forward with me," Hudson said.
"Because he pitched well today doesn't mean he made the team," said Guillen. "We're going to wait and see. We're not in a hurry. He's not too far away from being in the big leagues. That's why we're not in a hurry."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.