2/19/2014 7:29 P.M. ET
Rotation appears to be set at start of camp
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox haven't even played an intrasquad game, let alone started Cactus League competition, but a pretty good guess at the rotation probably could have been made back at SoxFest.
Chris Sale and Jose Quintana will be at the top, followed by John Danks and Felipe Paulino. Rookie Erik Johnson has the edge on other fifth-starter candidates such as Eric Surkamp, Andre Rienzo, Omar Poveda and Chris Beck, according to White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. While statistics and numbers don't make a huge difference in the decision-making from Arizona, chances will be afforded to this group through "B" games, split-squad action and even extended relief outings.
"If somebody comes in and is just throwing the ball looking really good, then it could turn into a little bit of a dogfight," Cooper said.
"We have plenty of games to be able to see them all," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Sale gives glimpse of how difficult he can be
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale was the first White Sox starter to the mound for live batting practice Wednesday at Camelback Ranch, eventually throwing two sessions.
Judging by the reaction of Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu and Gordon Beckham in the box against the White Sox ace, Sale might already be ahead of schedule in 2014 preparation.
Of course, pitchers being well ahead of hitters who aren't officially scheduled to report until Thursday might have factored into some of the perplexed looks attached to Sale offerings.
"There was a lot of take practice. I know it was supposed to be live. There were real good takes for everybody," said a smiling White Sox manager Robin Ventura, acknowledging the toughness of facing Sale in this first session.
"They go out there and do their best just to give the pitcher some looks of somebody standing in there, but I don't think anybody is ready to start facing Chris before we even start," Ventura said. "It's good to go out there and see it. You don't have to swing or do anything. Get your eyes used to it."
Sale said that it was good just to get a feel of having a body in there, seeing how they react, throwing a few breaking balls and getting feedback from them on his pitches. His arm felt good, he felt loose and he'll be ready to throw another live BP in two days.
It won't take Sale too much preparation to be ready for the Cactus League opening start on Feb. 28 against the Dodgers, with a second straight Opening Day start most likely on the horizon for March 31.
"A handful of bullpens, a couple live BPs and I should be ready to go," Sale said. "I should have enough feel to get out there and hit the ground running a little bit and not take too much time getting ready."
Jones to get back on the mound soon
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As expected, Nate Jones returned to working out on Wednesday. The right-handed reliever and closer candidate had been shut down since the first day of camp because of a moderate left glute strain.
Manager Robin Ventura believes a return to the mound for Jones could come soon.
"He's getting a little better," said Ventura of Jones. "We are probably looking at having him start throwing in the next couple of days to be able to see how it feels. He's feeling much better and doing fine."
Surkamp working on adjustments
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox already have picked a few things to change with newcomer Eric Surkamp that they've tried to implement just through him playing catch. Pitching coach Don Cooper said they'll go over the specifics with Surkamp after watching Thursday's live batting practice.
This 26-year-old southpaw can process the information from his new organization along with the information he gained during his five seasons in the Giants organization. Some of that information came from talks with Madison Bumgarner, whom Surkamp tried to talk with whenever the chance arose.
"Being such a young guy, he's pretty good and he knows a lot about pitching," said Surkamp of his talks with Bumgarner. "Whenever I had the opportunity to be around him and go up there, we would talk pitching and mechanics. I almost have similar type of mechanics."
Self-described as more of a finesse southpaw, Surkamp likes to mix up his fastball, slider, curve and changeup and throw all of them. Surkamp, who was a waiver claim from the Giants, thinks refining his repertoire could lead to the biggest improvements.
"It might be a little pitch here or there that you add in, a cutter or something like that," Surkamp said. "I know they have a lot of guys who throw those over here. We are all here for a reason. Just be consistent and do your job every day.
"This is my first time switching organizations. So, it's definitely a little different. Just getting to know all the guys and stuff like that. It takes a couple of days to get comfortable. But the game is still the same and baseball is baseball, so I've just got to go out and pitch."
Third to first
• The unseasonably warm temperatures in Glendale, consistently hitting the upper 80s, have helped pitchers get loose early, according to Sale.
"I remember last year, it was like 40s. That's just tough to get loose," Sale said. "You're talking about throwing bullpens, and your arm is a little sore the next day and trying to get loose. It's definitely nice to have warmer weather, and we're going to take advantage of it for sure."
• In looking at the sizable hitters stepping in during live BP Wednesday, such as Abreu and Garcia, Sale was glad to not have to face them again after Spring Training preparation.
"Abreu got in there, and I was like, 'All right, someone else can pitch,'" said Sale with a laugh. "I'll make sure to keep that L screen in front of me. Those guys look good. Everyone looks like they're coming in, gaining some weight, looking strong."
Ventura quipped that the White Sox will have to up their food allotments for pregame and postgame spreads.
"We have some big guys," Ventura said. "You don't realize how big they are until you walk up next to them. Avis is definitely big and Jose the same thing. [Adam] Dunn is not small either."
• Dunn arrived at camp on Wednesday. The full squad is expected for Thursday's position player report date, minus reliever Ronald Belisario, who is still working on visa issues in Venezuela.