03/03/2013 8:15 PM ET
Spring success gives Mitchell 'collected' attitude
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jared Mitchell is completely healthy, hitting the ball hard during the early stages of Cactus League action and finds himself in as good of a place offensively as he probably has been since joining the White Sox. That combination should add up to an unparalleled excitement level for Mitchell to start the season.
The 24-year-old has a different take on the feeling emanating from this success.
"I kind of got myself to a calm and cool and collected place," Mitchell said. "It's exciting, don't get me wrong. But I'm more laid back this year, I guess you could say. I know what opportunity is ahead of me, and realistically it's kind of the same opportunity that has been there every year, especially in this organization.
"If you perform and do things right, you will move. But it doesn't excite me any more than it has any other year. When you feel like you start doing things right and feel yourself getting better, it puts me in a calm and collected place."
Mitchell didn't get to the plate Sunday in Peoria, but knocked out a no-doubt-about-it, opposite-field homer to left-center during Saturday's 4-0 victory over the Reds. The repetition of getting consistent at-bats has helped Mitchell, but if his early calm is to carry over into the season, the left-handed-hitting Mitchell would like to see more hits going the opposite way.
"With my skill set, I need to be able to use the whole field," Mitchell said. "I try to stay up the middle of the field."
Peavy's energy at midseason form despite results
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Don't look at Jake Peavy's Cactus League statistics at Peoria Stadium Sunday to figure out where the right-hander stands in preparation for the 2013 campaign.
Listen to the genuine excitement in the voice of the 12-year veteran, excitement coming from his first truly healthy and confident Spring Training as part of the White Sox, and coming off of arguably his best individual season since winning the 2007 National League Triple Crown of pitching as part of Sunday's opponent from San Diego.
"This is the first time I'm free from that," said Peavy of the right ankle injury and then lat reattachment surgery in 2010 that he has worked through since joining the White Sox. "It's not in the back of my head.
"You have no idea what the future holds -- I may go out tomorrow and my elbow could blow up. That's the risk we all take. But I think the numbers velocity-wise today proves that to a lot of guys around camp. I had a little bit more than I had at any point all of last year. That's a nice sign for me and something to build on. You have to keep getting stronger."
Peavy made his 2013 debut against Padres pitcher Clayton Richard, who was part of the 2009 White Sox trade to acquire Peavy. He allowed three runs on five hits over three innings, striking out two and throwing 30 of his 44 pitches for strikes.
Of those 44 pitches, Peavy figures about 38 or 39 were fastballs. He went to the offspeed offerings to finish off strikeouts against Everth Cabrera and Jedd Gyorko. This is the time for Peavy to work on specific aspects of his repertoire, and Sunday was fastball command.
"If I make a pitch in Spring Training and it's not how it needs to be, I'm going to do it again until it ..." Peavy said. "But I felt great. I really did. You get your mechanics going game speed, you get your fastball command where it needs to be. Everything else works off of that."
In his second-to-last Cactus League start, possibly against the Dodgers on March 23, Peavy wants to get over 100 pitches and will pretty much put everything together. His energy was in midseason form, though, after Sunday's effort.
"People look at box scores, and you don't want to give up runs through Spring Training," Peavy said. "For someone who doesn't have to show what you can do to make the team, this is the only time to work on things.
"I feel as healthy as I've felt for a long time. What it translates into, who knows? But it's a nice place to be compared to last year when you're wondering if you'll come close to being the same guy."
Morel takes advantage of infield versatility
PEORIA, Ariz. -- In Saturday afternoon's 4-0 victory over the Reds, Brent Morel handled two chances flawlessly at shortstop. For Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Padres in Peoria, he was back to his more customary third-base position.
Morel likes that the team is giving him a chance to keep all options open. But his primary goal remains to break camp as the White Sox starting third baseman.
"Like I said, it's my mindset, it has to be," said Morel of keeping third base as his focus. "But when it comes down to it, I'm up for anything to make the team.
"I mean it feels good and I like it out there [at short]," added Morel. "A lot more moving around and stuff, it's fun."
All but two of the White Sox position player roster spots appear to be set, with Hector Gimenez and Dewayne Wise locked in off the bench. Rule 5 Draft selection Angel Sanchez has the edge for the utility infield spot, having played 108 of his 149 big league games at shortstop.
There's a chance Morel and Sanchez could break camp with the team, but with the left-handed-hitting Conor Gillaspie looking sharp at the plate and the White Sox needing another left-handed bat, it would seem to be a two-for-one roster spot battle. And that equation doesn't factor in outfielder Jordan Danks or any other surprise candidate.
Alexei Ramirez has played no fewer than 148 games at shortstop since taking over as the starter, and has played 156, 155 and 158, respectively, over the past three years. The primary utility infielder might not be called on frequently, but still is desired to be a shortstop first. Jeff Keppinger, who is penciled as the starting third baseman, actually has played more games at shortstop than at third in his career (178-to-152), and Gillaspie has never played at shortstop as a pro.
But a healthy Morel needs to continue to show versatility beyond third to have a chance at the Opening Day roster.
"The main [difference] is just the instincts of not waiting on the ball," said Morel. "Like at third, you just kind of catch it. There aren't too many ground balls at third where you have to charge. I had one yesterday where I mean, I got the guy. It's something I probably need to come get it a little more.
"It's similar throws and positioning ... sometimes the speed of the runner plays more of a factor that it does at third base."
Third to first
• Alex Rios, Alejandro De Aza and Minor Leaguer Andy Gonzalez officially departed for Florida Sunday morning to join Team Puerto Rico for World Baseball Classic training.
• Alexei Ramirez returned to White Sox camp Sunday. He had been in Florida to take care of a family matter and had been gone since Wednesday.
• Despite suffering the loss in Cuba's 5-2 victory over Brazil Sunday, Andre Rienzo held the heavily favored Cubans hitless over the first four innings during the World Baseball Classic competition in Japan. The White Sox prospect fanned two and walked four.
• Jordan Danks is leading off and playing center and Carlos Sanchez is hitting second and playing shortstop as part of Monday's "B" game White Sox lineup.