The ol' eye test says Gavin Floyd's curve has regained its bite and Blake Tekotte is trying too hard.
Gavin Floyd had a very Gavin Floyd start on Sunday afternoon against Cincinnati. His off-speed stuff was good enough to strike out five over the first three innings ... but he also gave up four runs on seven hits, including an impressive Todd Frazier homer.
Floyd didn't give the media huddle anything to really sink their teeth into. In fact, he was all smiles:
"I think I improved from the last start and actually went into the fourth inning, which I think is what we wanted to do. I felt like I made a good step forward." [...]
"I’m throwing my fastball, slider, sinker, curveball, change — I’m trying to make pitches and act like it’s a middle-of-the-season game," he said. "I’m trying to get prepared for the season. They just got some good hits off me.
"It is a process of little things here and there. As soon as you can try to emulate a real game, the more prepared you are for the season."
Though the Reds showed up to Camelback Ranch ready to hit (it's great that Shin-Soo Choo is no longer in the American League), I could see where Floyd was coming from. Through two starts, it looks like he's throwing the kind of curveball that was among the league's best pitches four years ago, but has been rather ordinary since.
After his first start, he said he wasn't hindered by the elbow problems that caused him to miss starts in the second half. He's certainly putting it to the test with the number of breaking balls he's spinning. The return of an any-count super-curve would be a pleasant development, because if Frazier's homer was any indication, hitters are still going to make him pay for trying to steal strikes with his fastball.
The absences of Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios opened opportunities for the left-handed reserve outfield depth, and it's interesting to see how the 26th-man candidates are responding to the extended audition.
Jared Mitchell has been getting rave reviews all spring -- and not just for his "washboard abs on his washboard abs" -- and he continued it on Sunday, going 2-for-6 in the White Sox's 11-7 victory over Seattle. He did strike out once, but it's only the fifth time over 27 PA. It's the kind of start he had back during his first look in 2010, which ended prematurely when he ruined his ankle. Whether he can sustain this success remains to be seen, but it's nice to enjoy a Mitchell performance without having to overlook his strikeout rate or inflated BABIP.
Things aren't coming as easy to Blake Tekotte He looks better at the plate than his line would indicate (.176/.289/.294), but there's a little bit of desperation in his game. It showed up in the box score on Sunday, as he reached on a perfect bunt single and then stole second on Johnny Cueto. But it's reared its ugly head at times on the field, including his second airmailed throw of the spring from center.
He could stand to ratchet it down a notch, because while he's using the trade from San Diego to reinvigorate his career, he doesn't really have anything to play for right now, because he's stuck. It's going to take an injury to an outfielder above him to open a spot, and if that happens, Tekotte would still likely get the nod over Mitchell, because Mitchell needs regular at-bats more than Tekotte does at their respective stages.
Whatever Tekotte's flaws, he's still in better shape than Jordan Danks. It's been a lost spring for Lantern Jaw Junior, whose spring started with elbow problems and continued on Saturday with an 0-for-5, two-strikeout day against Seattle. He's 1-for-12 in Cactus League play, and it's hard to see where his White Sox future leads. That's not the first time he's appeared to hit a dead end, so I'm reluctant to write him off, but it certainly appears that "One Danks At A Time" will be picked up for yet another season.