SURPRISE, Ariz. -- With runners on first and second and two outs in the first inning of the White Sox 6-3 victory over the Rangers on Thursday, Hector Santiago needed a big pitch to retire Nelson Cruz and keep his team in control.
Santiago turned to his screwball and struck out Cruz looking, just as he had done two batters earlier with Josh Hamilton. It's a pitch not featured by many in the big leagues, which seems to have caught opposing hitters off guard.
"From seeing some of the swings and some of the faces on these guys after they saw it, it was something they haven't seen or was odd to them," said Santiago, who threw 10 or 12 screwballs among his 45 pitches over two scoreless innings. "Sometimes it gets out of your hand because you grab it so lightly on the side of your hand. Today, it felt really good and I felt comfortable."
That screwball to Cruz operated almost like a backdoor curve, fading back over the plate. White Sox manager Robin Ventura called it an odd pitch but effective and went on to praise Santiago's makeup as much as his selections on the mound.
"He doesn't back down," said Ventura of Santiago, who seems to be the long relief leader for the bullpen. "He's facing some good hitters and they have a great lineup and to see him go after them like that, and getting in a little bit of a bind and get out of it. ... It's great to see."
Intense cage work paying dividends for Dunn
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Don't look at the distance of Adam Dunn's three-run home run in the first inning Thursday against the Rangers' Neftali Feliz, or the fact that it even went out, and be impressed.
Dunn has a slightly different measurement for success during Cactus League at-bats.
"You like results, but I told [hitting coach] Jeff [Manto], it was great the ball went out, but I was more happy where it went out," said Dunn, who drove a 1-2 pitch over the right-field wall. "That ball I could have hooked it to first base easily and probably still got the run in, but the direction where the ball went, that's what I cared about."
That blast was followed by Dunn's first-pitch double off Texas left-handed reliever Michael Kirkman, scoring Brent Morel with two outs in the third. Dunn spoke of how he could have easily hooked that pitch to second, adding how he faced Kirkman with the approach that the southpaw might start with a breaking ball.
In hitting the fastball instead, Dunn joked that he didn't know what happened and thinks he "blacked out or something."
"I'm serious," said a smiling Dunn. "I was almost dead sold on [hitting a] breaking ball."
Stepping up the intensity of his cage work done with Manto has paid dividends for Dunn, who was trying to see as many pitches as possible in his first two spring games where he drew three walks. On Thursday, his goal was to get his timing down and swing early.
Regardless of the plan, Dunn looks locked in with each at-bat.
"I am seeing the ball good. And that's over half the battle for me, seeing it," Dunn said. "I can tell by taking pitches, I'm seeing them good. The things we're actually working on in the cage as of now, that's what we're seeing, it's helping. I'm staying back, I'm not cutting off my swing. Right now, I've got good length. I can give you all kinds of technical terms, but it doesn't really mean a lot. But the swing path feels like the ball is going where it should, the direction."
"Out here it can be deceiving with the windblown ones. Those weren't windblown. Those were right on the barrel," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Dunn. "He's had really good at-bats, even in the walks. You can tell he's seeing it and confident at the plate."
Floyd gets defensive help in odd frame
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Gavin Floyd set down the Rangers in order during the third inning of Thursday morning's "B" game in Surprise. The weird addendum to this frame for the White Sox right-hander was that he didn't retire a single hitter.
The White Sox nailed a guy at third, trying to stretch a double into a triple, with a perfect relay throw from second baseman Tyler Kuhn. Then, after giving up a single, Floyd stepped off the mound in time to catch the baserunner breaking early and throw him out at second. And after yet another single, catcher Josh Phegley threw out the runner trying to advance on a wild pitch.
"I don't think that's ever happened," said Floyd, who felt good in throwing 47 pitches and then 15 more in the 'pen after allowing two runs and fanning two in three innings. "We had some great fundamental defense. It would be nice to have it happen during the season."
Short runs into wall, dislocates left shoulder
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- White Sox outfielder Brandon Short dislocated his left shoulder while crashing into the Surprise Stadium center-field wall trying to catch Luis Martinez's long double in the eighth inning of a 6-3 victory over the Rangers.
Short will have a MRI done on his shoulder.
White Sox right-hander Deunte Heath took a Mike Ott grounder off of his right shoulder leading off the seventh, suffering a bruise. But he stayed in the game to finish his second scoreless frame.
Ventura looks at Cubs as just another game
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Robin Ventura doesn't put any extra stock in his first managerial meeting with the Cubs, coming Friday at Camelback Ranch.
"Not for me," Ventura said. "It's fun just because everybody gets all excited. We'll probably have a bigger crowd than we normally do.
"We are just playing and [getting] everybody their at-bats and doing everything. You don't want to go out and lay an egg, either."