Pitching three scoreless innings, Dylan Axelrod was surprisingly dominant in the Chicago White Sox Cactus League Opener. With the White Sox top starters not scheduled to begin pitching until March 1, Axelrod was given the rock for the South Siders first Spring Training game.
Allowing no runs, one hit and striking out four, Axelrod was able to shut down the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although the 27-year-old hurler doesn’t figure to be in the White Sox rotation come Opening Day, it’s always encouraging when pitchers begin the spring strong, regardless of their projected role for the upcoming year. Figuring to start the season in the White Sox bullpen or in Triple-A, Axelrod will look to be a guy Sox manager, Robin Ventura, can use for spot starts throughout 2013.
Starting 14 games for the White Sox in 2012, Axelrod was 2-2 with a 5.47 ERA. Obviously these numbers don’t exactly blow you away, but Axelrod did have a few impressive outings last year, including a start in late August against the Baltimore Orioles where he pitched 7.1 innings, giving up just one run and three hits.
What Axelrod brings to the table for the White Sox is a reliable fill in starter. If any of the arms in the Sox rotation need an extra day of rest, or go down with an injury, I believe Axelrod will be the first man Ventura calls upon. While there may not be a place for Axelrod in the White Sox rotation come April 1, if he continues to pitch as well as he did today, the Sox will have to make room for the right-hander.
Alex Rios also started the spring on a positive note for the White Sox, going 2 for 2 with two doubles and one RBI. Tyler Flowers, who is replacing fan favorite A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate for the Sox, hit the first homer of the spring for the South Siders, as the White Sox defeated the Dodgers 9-0.