Jacob Turner was roughed up by the Royals on Monday afternoon, giving all three fifth-starter candidates a spring ERA of 10.00 or higher.
Turner, like Erik Johnson after his first start (but not his second), said he was happy with his stuff, and less so with the way it was used at times:
"The stuff has been pretty good, the execution has been a little disappointing at times, especially out of the stretch, I feel like," Turner said. "Coming off the injury I’m happy to be pitching, happy to be competing. A few balls have found holes but obviously when that happens you have to bear down and get the next guy out. That’s what I’ll focus on next time."
Each pitcher isn't as bad as his spring line -- Arizona has all the ingredients for a hitter-friendly environment, and baseball's a zero-sum game -- but each pitcher also has a chance of falling flat on his face, making these early struggles ominous.
The flipside -- almost every team has a soft fifth starter, and it's easy to over-dwell on this one because the trio of Turner, Johnson and John Danks has made eight starts between them, while Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Mat Latos have only been seen in real game action once combined. Once the spring rotation stops being a carousel of fringe pitchers, it'll be easier to place proper emphasis on the most questionable candidates.
Sale finally emerged from semi-hiding, facing the Dodgers in a B-game at Camelback Ranch. He threw 75 pitches (Robin Ventura described them as "free and easy") with results good enough to make Sale hungry for the real Cactus League action:
"It's time to get out to the big field and start playing with the grown-ups," Sale said. "There's something to be said for fans being there, being in a big stadium, hearing the noise, the music in between innings, no rollovers. If you're out there getting it handed to you, you're out there until you get it over with. I'm ready for that."
He's set to make his first proper spring start against the Dodgers on Saturday, and White Sox fans will able to see it for themselves on CSN.
Carlos Rodon has received the most run of the rotation fixtures, and it's been a pleasure to watch him go to work. Mark Simon talked to Don Cooper about Rodon's progress, saying crow-hopping during long toss allowed Rodon to solidify his release point during the second half of the season.
Vince Coleman turned into a running (har) joke last season, with the White Sox showing little if any progress on the basepaths under his watch. The Sox weren't alone, however, and Coleman says there are a lot of reasons why it's hard out there for runners -- poor technique, slide steps, and a league that is more aware than ever of the cost of failed attempts. The impressionability of youth and the lower stakes might be why Coleman is seeing more success stories in the minor leagues.
Our friend Brett (Chet Lemonhead 'round these parts) talked to Rick Hahn for MLB Trade Rumors, and he covers a lot of ground over not-that-many words. There isn't a unifying theme over a wide-ranging interview, but Hahn did emphasize the desire for a different feel with the roster:
As with the Flowers decision, this was another area that we felt it was time to try something different. Alexei was a stalwart for us for many years; however, we weren’t just going to bring back the same squad and expect things to be different.
I didn't realize Brett wrote it right away, but after a few 10-dollar words, I went back and checked the byline and yep.
The White Sox didn't initially comment on efforts of Chicago alderman to ban smokeless tobacco at all professional and amateur sporing events, but Jerry Reinsdorf weighed in with full-throated support with a letter. The habit is a really, really gross one, but after watching post-quitting Conor Gillaspie last season, I wonder if the Sox are properly accounting for the effects of withdrawal on production.
- David Freese signing analysis: Pirates seize opportunity, get useful player on bargain deal - Bucs Dugout
The offseason's most-forgettable good player found a home, and for a pretty paltry sum. The Pirates brought him into the fold for just $3 million. They should get their money's worth, planning for Freese to open the season as a short-term replacement for Jung Ho Kang and a bench booster afterward.