White Sox seeing the real Jared Mitchell

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White Sox seeing the real Jared Mitchell

In the southern towns of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Chattanooga, a young White Sox prospect is suddenly raising eyebrows and expectations.

Hes batting .310 with an on-base percentage of .434. He leads the Southern League with 22 runs and 6 triples. Hes 6 for 7 in stolen bases. His strikeouts are way down. His walks are way up.

And now, so is the ceiling for Jared Mitchell, the left-handed outfielder who once was lost, but now is found.

Because of the health issues, we have never really seen the real Mitch, said Buddy Bell, White Sox VP of Player Development. I believe we are just now getting a glimpse of seeing the player we drafted a couple years ago.

As the White Sox first round pick in 2009, Mitchell was in the same draft class as young phenoms Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Drew Storen, Mike Trout and Brett Jackson. A college star at LSU, he seemed to be on the fast track to join the White Sox, until that fateful day the following spring.

March 12, 2010.

Brought into a split-squad game in Tempe as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning, Mitchell went after a deep fly ball off the bat of the Angels Juan Rivera. Jared made a sensational catch against the wall, but when he came down, something was wrong. He couldnt feel anything in his left leg.

Mitchell tore a tendon in his ankle.

He would need surgery, months of rehab, plus something most 21-year-olds never think about.

Time.

You learn a lot about patience through an injury like that, Mitchell said by phone on Monday. Its a lot of mental perseverance, and things you have to go through, and things you learn about yourself through a situation like that.

The Most Outstanding Player of the 2009 College World Series was forced to miss all of the 2010 season. Then last year while at Winston-Salem, he struggled mightily at the plate, batting .222 with 183 strikeouts in 129 games.

Going into last year, in my mind, I thought I was pretty healthy and pretty back to regular.

He wasnt. Mitchell says he was at about 85 percent. Thats physically. Throw the mental part into it, and that number was probably lower.

I wasnt all the way back, didnt have all the spring back, Mitchell said. I think that helps a lot, to be able to know that youre healthy and not have to worry about anything else.

Ask Jake Peavy.

As a former number-one pick, did Mitchell put too much pressure on himself?

I think subconsciously I probably was, yeah, Mitchell said. For me, I guess I wanted everything to come back so quick. It wasnt so much trying to show this person this or that person that. I wanted to be back in top shape so much, so quick. And it just doesnt happen that way. This game is not that easy. You realize that once you go through it. I think being able to just come into this year and being able to let things happen and not put so much pressure on every at-bat, and not worry about everything.

So far, when it comes to hitting in the clutch, Mitchell doesnt seem to be worried about anything. With the bases empty, hes batting .245. With runners on, his average climbs to .374. With runners in scoring position, its even higher at .394.

He has made such great strides and because of his talent and makeup will continue to get better daily, Bell said about the young centerfielder. There are a few things we knew very early on. He can't get much more athletic, hes a great kid, and he is one of the most competitive kids we've ever had here.

He is so tough on himself. That gets in his way sometimes, but I think that kind of mentality will help him become the player that he hopes to be.

If he continues to hit like this, the White Sox believe hell be ready for the big leagues sometime in 2013. But in the meantime, Jared isnt thinking about next season. Hes focused on today.

My time will come, he said. If you start to think about getting promoted to the majors, its just added pressure on yourself. What I try to do I just enjoy the game every day, have fun, and let the chips fall where they may.

White Sox: Jose Quintana pleased with final warmup before Opening Day start

White Sox: Jose Quintana pleased with final warmup before Opening Day start

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana was pleased with his final warmup before Opening Day.

The White Sox Opening Day starter threw 48 pitches (30 strikes) against a Milwaukee Brewers minor league team at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday. Quintana allowed two hits, two runs (one earned), walked one and struck out three in three-plus innings. He next pitches at home on Monday against the Detroit Tigers.

"I finished my preparation on a high note," Quintana said. "I'm heading to the season with good energy and satisfied with all the worked and effort that I put in my preparation.

"I'm absolutely ready for the season to start."

A tweet from USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Tuesday suggested Quintana will start the season as a member of the White Sox despite myriad rumors. Nightengale noted that the Houston Astros refuse budge on what they're willing to pay for the 2016 All-Star. The White Sox have also held firm on their asking price and haven't been motivated by any of the offers they've received to move Quintana.

The team reduced the number of players still in camp to 34 on Tuesday with the trade of Peter Bourjos and by cutting nonroster invitees Cory Luebke and Matt Purke. Luebke, who has been sidelined for six days after he tweaked his hamstring, finished the spring with a 0.96 ERA in 9 1/3 innings. He can opt out of his minor-league deal in May. Purke struck out eight in eight innings and finished with a 2.25 ERA. 

Both had been in the mix for one of two open bullpen spots.

Fellow reliever Jake Petricka looked much calmer on Tuesday than he did after taking a comebacker off his hand Monday. X-rays were negative and Petricka played catch. He hopes to pitch as scheduled this weekend in Milwaukee. 

"This is just one of those you do everything you can do to stay healthy, and its part of the game you can't control," Petricka said. "You never want that to happen, especially this late in camp. "But we dodged a bullet and we're good to go."

The White Sox also had a close call with second baseman Tyler Saladino, who was hit by a pitch in the left wrist in minor league action on Monday. Saladino received treatment and could return to action on Wednesday.

"He's doing good, we're just holding him back today for my well being," Renteria said.

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Renteria said reliever Juan Minaya is improving but still likely to start the season on the DL. Minaya suffered an abdominal tear in mid-March. 

"He has been improving solidly and responding to the treatments," Renteria said.

Yolmer Sanchez went 2-for-2 with an RBI and scored a run in a 7-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Surprise, Ariz. 

Michael Ynoa allowed an unearned run and a hit in 2 1/3 scoreless innings. 

Zack Burdi struck out three in a scoreless inning.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Nate Jones reflects on winning gold at the World Baseball Classic

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Nate Jones reflects on winning gold at the World Baseball Classic

Nate Jones was looking for something to do today (we kid), so he came on the White Sox Talk Podcast to speak with Chuck Garfien and gave what he said is the longest interview of his career (not kidding). 

Fresh off winning a gold medal at the World Baseball Classic, Jones spoke about the experience, what he did with his gold medal and why he chose to play in the tournament while other top Americans like Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw decided to skip it. Jones also gave a scouting report on some of the White Sox young pitchers and explains how Jose Quintana stays focused despite all the trade rumors.

Later, Chuck is joined by White Sox CSN producers Rob Wiatrowski and Slavko Bekovic to talk about the Peter Bourjos trade that opens the door for Jacob May to win the starting job in centerfield.

Plus, is Deadspin trolling the White Sox? AJ Pierzynski joins Fox Sports and CSNChicago.com Insider Dan Hayes calls in from Arizona to give his predictions for the White Sox Opening Day roster.

Check out the latest White Sox Talk Podcast right here: