03/26/2013 8:28 PM ET
Sale offers change of pace in spring finale
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Tuesday's start against the Rangers at Surprise Stadium was not about getting work in for Chris Sale.
As his last appearance in Arizona, Sale was focused on game preparation for his first career Opening Day start coming Monday against the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field. With that goal in mind, Sale and catcher Hector Gimenez decided to utilize his changeup.
"Yeah, it felt good, especially to lefties," said Sale of the pitch, which helped him limit the Rangers to one Geovany Soto solo homer over four innings and 50 pitches, while he fanned five.
"Hector told me before the game that we were going to throw a lot more changeups," Sale added. "He said that these guys have seen your breaking ball and haven't been quite on your changeup and haven't seen it as much."
Sale used the change to strike out Nelson Cruz in the second and did the same to David Murphy as the next hitter. Ian Kinsler was the final swinging victim on the change to close out the third.
The next game for Sale is one that actually counts, as he gets an extra day of rest before taking the mound. He doesn't believe the nerves for that start will actually subside until after the final out of the late afternoon contest in Chicago.
"Whether it's Spring Training or the first game or middle or last, I still get butterflies in my stomach and the nerves are still there," Sale said. "It's all about how you control it and hopefully I'll see it through.
"Sometimes you can beat yourself up mentally and that's one thing I'm going to focus on the most is I feel fine, I feel ready physically. The next battle is just keeping my mind clear and not thinking too far into what's going on."
Rios still aiming to be ready for Opening Day
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Alex Rios said that Monday's MRI of his lower back showed nothing serious beyond a muscular issue, leaving him optimistic that he will be ready for Opening Day on April 1.
"There's nothing. There's just pain. There's nothing to be worried about. And I think it's just going to take time to heal," Rios said. "No worries. It's going to be fine."
Manager Robin Ventura had expressed the desire to use Rios in a game or two before the White Sox broke camp on Wednesday. But with Rios missing his fourth straight Cactus League contest Tuesday, his target was more on one of the two exhibition games Friday and Saturday in Milwaukee.
"It depends how I feel," Rios said. "I believe that I've made pretty decent progress from yesterday to today. It was easier to get out of bed and do some stuff. But certain moves, I still feel a little pinch but I should be fine. I feel looser and we'll see what happens."
Rios reiterated that the problem started Saturday when he was lifting weights and that he felt nothing during his participation for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
"We shouldn't be worried," Rios said. "I'm not worried. I'm going to be ready."
Viciedo could move to infield in future
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Dayan Viciedo knocked out his third homer and fifth double during Tuesday's 11-3 White Sox victory over the Rangers. Viciedo now has 14 RBIs, as he prepares for his second consecutive season as the White Sox left fielder.
Viciedo has played third base, first base and right field at some point during his White Sox tenure. He could move back to first in the future, depending on the moves made with Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn.
"He certainly has the ability to play first if we needed that at some point down the road," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn. "Again, given that we do have some outfield depth coming that hopefully continues to develop the way it has been developing, that could be an option."
Although a move to third was discussed during the offseason, it doesn't seem like a choice in Hahn's mind.
"More often than not, we are going to want to emphasize pitching and defense in our ballpark," Hahn said. "Putting him over at third base probably compromises that a little bit and the juice not being worth the squeeze."
Short returns to scene of injury, gets revenge
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Brandon Short departed Surprise Stadium on Tuesday with a far better feeling than his visit on March 8, 2012.
On that date more than one year ago, Short sustained a dislocated left shoulder and a torn labrum when he crashed into the wall going for a double in the eighth inning. The 28th-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft lost all but 22 games in 2012 to that injury.
In his revenge against the stadium performance, Short homered twice among his three hits and drove in four. His three-run shot in the fourth came off Matt Harrison.
"It felt great," said Short of his long-ball exhibition. "It felt good being out there and able to play with the team."
Short easily could get lost among the talented White Sox outfield prospects such as Courtney Hawkins, Keenyn Walker, Jared Mitchell and Trayce Thompson. But manager Robin Ventura clearly hasn't forgotten the 24-year-old in his sixth professional season, joking that Short is going to get Alex Rios' balky back quickly healthy.
"Before [he ran into the wall], he was looking kind of like he was today and does a lot of good things," said Ventura. "He's a good kid. It's nice to see him back and doing the things he's doing."
Third to first
• The White Sox placed John Danks on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 22) to continue his recovery from left shoulder surgery. They also placed left-handed reliever Leyson Septimo on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 22) with a left shoulder strain and reassigned left-handed reliever David Purcey to Minor League camp.
With the moves, the White Sox have 31 players remaining in Major League camp: 15 pitchers, three catchers, nine infielders and four outfielders.
• Ventura officially named Dylan Axelrod as the team's fifth starter following Tuesday's 11-3 victory over the Rangers. Axelrod will get a solid first shot at filling the void left by Danks.
"I don't want him throwing every pitch thinking this is going to cost him next week or the next five days," Ventura said. "Let him go out and pitch and figure it out after."
• Friday's exhibition contest against the Brewers in Milwaukee will be a bullpen day for the White Sox. Hector Santiago is scheduled to throw in that night game. Axelrod, Jose Quintana and Gavin Floyd will throw in the Saturday afternoon game, although pitching coach Don Cooper might switch Axelrod to Friday. Cooper would like to get Axelrod in the 90-pitch range with this outing.
• Although A.J. Pierzynski was not in the Rangers' lineup Tuesday, there was time for friendly trash-talking with Chris Sale over Friday's Florida Gulf Coast University-Florida Sweet 16 contest in the NCAA Tournament, according to the pitcher. Sale is a proud alum of FGCU, while Pierzynski is a diehard supporter of the Gators.
"I couldn't be more proud of these guys," Sale said during a Monday night interview on the MLB Network Radio Channel on SiriusXM. "They've turned something [that was] really good into something great. And it's a young team, a lot of people are coming back, so we're going to be like this for a few years to come. It's going to be fun."