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Padres beat White Sox, 4-3; Lopez’s command still not there

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The righthander struggled to throw strikes early — which has happened all too often this spring

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox
Wild King: Reynaldo Lopez will have to throw more strikes to keep that No. 3 spot locked up for the future.
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago White Sox had to use two of its six mound visits for starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez in the first inning against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.

The young righthander got two quick outs to start the game, and then ran into trouble with his command — something fans have seen quite often this spring. Lopez walked three straight hitters, and had to battle back from a 3-0 count on Cory Spangenberg before eventually getting him to fly out.

Lopez settled down after that, throwing five total innings and giving up three earned runs on five hits in Chicago’s 4-3 loss to the Padres. The one big hit was Eric Hosmer’s two-run home run in the fifth inning. The White Sox are thankful they will not have to face Hosmer in the regular season.

Lopez’s command has not entirely hurt him this spring, but the coaching staff would like to see him eliminate his walks. Walks not only put people on base, but increase pitch counts. Lopez has shown an impressive ability to pitch around his walks, but teams are bound to break through with all those players on the basepaths.

Electric stuff will take Lopez only so far, and his wild streak is something pitching coach Don Cooper will continue to try improve. Once he establishes consistent control, Lopez can use his disappearing slider and changeup to become a strong strikeout pitcher. He isn’t that far away from becoming a top-of-the-rotation guy for the White Sox; the 24-year-old just needs better command of his pitches to last more than five innings per start.

Getting starters deep into games will be important with this year’s team. The Sox have depth, but less talent than last season’s Opening Day roster. It might not happen with the back-end of the rotation, but Carlos Rodon (when healthy), Lucas Giolito and Lopez need to be counted on to consistently go six-plus innings during the year.

Lopez’s five innings today was a good enough start, but he’ll have to throw more strikes to take that next step.

On Wednesday, the White Sox did not start many players who will be in the Opening Day lineup, with the exception of Matt Davidson and Welington Castillo.

B-teamers Gavin Sheets and Blake Rutherford went a combined 0-for-7, with a walk. Sheets is a White Sox 2017 second rounder, while Rutherford was a part of the return for Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson.

Popular utilityman on the bubble Tyler Saladino added an RBI single in the seventh, while Yermin Mercedes hit a solo shot in the eighth inning.

The team failed to score 10 runs, but then, spring training studs Avisail Garcia and Yolmer Sanchez were held out of the lineup.

Tomorrow night the White Sox will be under the lights — likely with a heaping helping of starters in the lineup — against the Arizona Diamondbacks.