Plus, health updates for Jeff Keppinger, Tyler Flowers and Jesse Crain
Alex Rios is taking his time rejoining the White Sox in Glendale. His majestic two-run homer provided the winning margin as Puerto Rico beat defending champs Japan, 3-1, to advance to the World Baseball Classic championship game.
We haven't seen enough of Rios' handsome home-run follow-through this spring, so feast your eyes on this:
The White Sox, by comparison, are taking it easy. While Rios whipped an entire commonwealth into a frenzy, Robin Ventura continued to hide his major-league pitchers from divisional opponents. The Royals dealt a 10-0 whuppin' to the Sox on Sunday, although they'd be more accurately advertised as the Charlotte Knights, since Zach Stewart started and ended up with this Zachtastic line: 2⅔ IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 0 K.
The lone bright spot: Jordan Danks, who went 2-for-2, which makes gives him nine hits in his last 12 at-bats, which raises his line to .333/.394/.533 on the spring. He's added 721 points to his OPS over his last four games. Spring stats!
Otherwise, the Sox are just trying to get healthy, including:
It's been a weird spring for Keppinger, but he took a step towards normalcy by returning to the lineup against the Royals, going 0-for-3 with a walk. He's not nearly all the way back, because he served as designated hitter.
"I don’t have an issue with my shoulder where it’s going to be a problem all season long," said Keppinger, who returned Sunday after missing a week because of right shoulder irritation and to address a personal matter. "There’s a little irritation and inflammation in there from just picking up the use really fast, where in the off-season I didn’t much time to build it up. I’m pretty sure it’s taken care of and we’ll move forward from here."
After missing a couple games with a stiff back, Flowers says he expects to be back behind the plate when the White Sox return to action on Tuesday:
Flowers, who hasn't caught in a game since Thursday because of a stiff lower back, was surprised to hear that he was posted on the lineup card, but he said Sunday morning he expects to catch Tuesday. The Sox have an off day Monday.
Flowers was headed to the backfields to do his normal work, including hitting.
"It feels good,'' he said. "It's progressing nicely. Going to do some stuff, keep everything in shape and I'll be good to go.''
Pitching in a game situation for the first time since Feb. 25, Crain allowed two runs on two hits (including a homer) in a "B" game on Sunday. He threw 17 pitches (nine strikes), and came away feeling optimistic about his strained right adductor:
"I was a little nervous before, I didn't know how it would react, but today was a sign that it is healing and it is real close," Crain said. "It's definitely a step forward. The other day, I felt 80 percent [healthy], today I was up to about 90. I was just a little tentative mentally with a few pitches, so I was leaving some pitches up." [...]
"I think I'm very close, I'm just worried about feeling good, and not wanting to think about my leg when I'm out there," Crain said. "I still think about it a little bit, but as far from two days ago, it was a huge jump. Hopefully, next time I get back out there, I'll be even closer."