When it boils down to the basics, Spring Training isn’t about wins, losses or overall record. It’s about perfecting the small details, about ironing out the foundational wrinkles that can potentially hamper a team down the stretch.
In their final spring game in Arizona, the Chicago White Sox took a tough 4-3 loss to crosstown rival the Chicago Cubs. Despite the loss, the White Sox showed significant improvement in areas in which they’ve struggled so far this spring.
After being named the team’s No. 2 starter, Felipe Paulino made his final spring start on the mound for the White Sox, throwing 24 of his 30 pitches for strikes and walking one batter while striking out three. He allowed three runs on five hits in four innings, and finished his Spring Training with a 1-2 record and 6.75 ERA in six starts. In four of those starts, Paulino allowed one or fewer walks, a positive sign that his fluctuating command may start to steady itself soon.
With two runners on in the bottom of the fourth inning and one run already in for the Cubs, Adam Eaton continued his all-around solid spring, making a spectacular diving catch of a Darwin Barney shot in the left-centerfield gap that stopped the rally in its tracks and ended the inning. Eaton’s entire existence has been a major plus for the White Sox this spring, from his infectious enthusiasm to his defense to his .368 spring batting average.
The White Sox’s bullpen did a good job of stifling the Cubs in relief of Paulino, giving up one run in four innings. With Opening Day just days away and manager Robin Ventura’s continued reluctance to concretely name a closer, Nate Jones strengthened his case to earn the job by pitching a perfect eighth inning.
Adam Dunn and Alejandro De Aza hit back-to-back home runs with one out in the top of the ninth inning, showing some late-inning life at the plate. Dunn’s shot was his first of the spring, and a hopeful sign of more to come.
Spring losses and wins don’t matter, but pitching, defense and situational hitting are key tools to winning games, in both spring and season.