3/2/2014 1:14 P.M. ET
White Sox closer candidates nearing mound debuts
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The battle for White Sox closer slowly but surely is moving from the trainer's room to the field.
Neither Nate Jones nor Matt Lindstrom appeared in either of the first two Cactus League contests or were scheduled to throw in Saturday's rained out game against the Indians. Jones has been sidelined since the start of camp with a moderate left glute strain, while Lindstrom felt the effects of a mild left oblique strain last Wednesday and was scratched from his scheduled one inning Friday.
But Jones threw a live bullpen session Sunday and Lindstrom played long toss, with both targeting a mound debut in game action by the end of this week or the beginning of next. Jones threw two sets of 15 pitches and felt no discomfort.
"In the first , I was throwing strikes and I felt really good about the second set out there," Jones said. "I'm ready to rock and roll it feels like.
"I don't know what the plan is. They'll probably give me a couple days off, then have me throw another bullpen or put me in a game. I'm not really sure."
Lindstrom tentatively is set to play long toss again Monday and then throw another "touch and feel bullpen" Tuesday before potentially getting into some games.
"My main test will be off the bullpen mound getting downhill a little bit," Lindstrom said. "But I've been doing my rehab, feeling good and optimistic and looking forward to getting in some games. The training staff did a good job getting me better."
Daniel Webb, a third closer candidate, returned home at the end of last week due to a death in the family. Jones said Sunday that it's unfortunate with everything going on for this trio, but they are ready to battle for and against each other to get that ninth inning job.
"You can call it a friendly competition," said a smiling Jones. "We're all rooting for each other obviously. We don't want to see each other do badly. It's a nice little competition and makes spring interesting for us."
Paulino pleased with how he feels
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Felipe Paulino's Cactus League start Sunday in Surprise marked his first game pitched since Aug. 28, 2013, when he was doing injury rehab work with Triple-A Omaha in the Royals organization. The statistics he posted over 1 2/3 innings against the Rangers weren't overly impressive, allowing four runs on eight hits, but then again, it was his first start of Spring Training.
Feeling good was the most important thing for Paulino, followed closely by being able to throw strikes.
"My arm feels OK right now," said Paulino, who threw 31 of his 47 pitches for strikes. "The thing right now is how I wake up tomorrow. I believe I'm going to be OK. I feel confident about it. I feel strong but just wait for tomorrow and try to get ready for the next [start].
"Everybody knows I recovered last year. I'm happy to get back to a real game and show myself that I controlled everything. That's a good thing."
Paulino had ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow on July 3, 2012 and then had a cyst removed from his shoulder last September. There has been no soreness through the early stages of Spring Training for Paulino, who topped out at 94 mph on Sunday according to the Surprise Stadium scoreboard.
"I just want to look forward," said Paulino, who joined the White Sox via a one-year, $1.75 million deal with a 2015 club option. "The past is in the past. Right now it's looking forward for me. I want to fight for this, compete and we'll see what happens."
Manager Robin Ventura thought Paulino looked strong but wants his future pitch location to be a little less center-cut over the plate. Paulino jumped ahead on the first four hitters he faced, but all four reached base.
"You got to locate, otherwise you are going to get hit around and that's what happened," Ventura said. "As far as strength and all that stuff, what he looked like was fine.
"He was too much in the middle. He was getting ahead but then he didn't have anything to put anybody away with."
Two-sport star Mitchell admires Seahawks QB Wilson
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Jared Mitchell, a baseball and football standout at LSU, likes the fact that Russell Wilson will be joining Rangers Spring Training for one day on Monday. The talented quarterback who guided the Seahawks to an easy Super Bowl victory over the Broncos played 93 games as part of the Rockies system before being selected by the Rangers in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft this past December.
Wilson has a career .354 on-base percentage with 19 stolen bases.
"It's cool. Good for him. It's good for the game," said Mitchell, beginning his sixth season as part of the White Sox system. "It's good for the people that will be here to watch everything.
"I don't see the bad in it. Just put it like that. I think it's a great thing that the Seattle organization is allowing him to come here and still doing what he wants to do."
Mitchell pointed to Wilson's immense athletic ability as one of his standout traits, but it's "his poise and leadership" that really makes him special. He believes the Seahawks as an organization are fostering that confident feeling among their players, something the White Sox hope to do as this young core grows together.
"You see a lot of guys that are comfortable in the right way," said Mitchell, a Saints fan, of the Seahawks. "They are comfortable in wanting to win every day and doing things around each other and doing things together. I think that it's special to see what they are doing over there."
Viciedo, De Aza going toe to toe for left field spot
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Both Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza picked up singles during the White Sox 9-7 victory over the Rangers Sunday, with Viciedo getting the start in left field.
Manager Robin Ventura still answered with a quick "No" when asked if he planned to name a starter in left field any time soon during Spring Training.
"They are just going to play and we will figure it out once we get towards the end," said Ventura of left field. "They both are capable of playing. It's not like they both aren't good players. But it's a bit crowded and we'll see how it goes."
The right-handed hitting Viciedo has a .322 career average against southpaws and a .357 on-base percentage. The left-handed hitting De Aza is a .273 hitting against righties but also a .276 hitter vs. lefties.
Third to first
• Paul Konerko was scratched from Sunday's contest against the Rangers after feeling under the weather for the past two days. Konerko felt better Sunday but after not eating much over the past two days, the White Sox decided to play it safe and replaced him with Mike McDade.
• Sunday's 9-7 victory over the Rangers moves the White Sox overall Cactus League record to 68-89-11 since they moved to Glendale in 2009. They are 32-46-4 at Camelback Ranch, where they play Monday, and are 26-42-2 as the home team, which they are Monday against the Royals.
• Ventura had no update on the ongoing situation of Ronald Belisario and his visa issue in Venezuela.
"Believe me, that whole situation has gone dark for me. I can't do anything about it," Ventura said. "I just stop asking. I said, 'You guys just tell me when you think he's going to be here when it gets closer.' I'm not going to worry about it."
• Sunday's victory featured 12 singles and Tyler Flowers' sixth-inning homer among the White Sox 13-hit attack.