GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mitchell Boggs feels pretty good about where he is even if his most recent pitching line isn’t a strong indication.
Tuesday’s numbers weren’t appealing. Boggs allowed four earned runs and recorded two outs with a fastball that averaged 89-91 mph and topped out at 92, per a scout. He also didn’t command his slider well, though his pitches had life.
But the right-hander, who signed a $1.1-million deal with the White Sox right before camp began, said Wednesday he isn’t concerned.
A hard-thrower his entire career, Boggs said his velocity always is a process. Coming off 2013, where he posted a career-worst 8.10 ERA in 27 games, Boggs is upbeat about what he and pitching coach Don Cooper have accomplished. He also believes he will regain form as the regular season nears.
“My arm feels good,” Boggs said. “You look back at 2012 when I had the best year of my career, in April I was 91-93 and in September I was 97-98. I’m a guy that I’d like to think I get stronger as the year goes on. I know I’m not the strongest now that I’m going to be the whole year.”
The White Sox are hopeful Boggs can rediscover what made him one of the top relievers in the National League from 2010-12.
The belief is Boggs, who, including the postseason, made 87 appearances in 2012, and then pitched in the World Baseball Classic last spring, looked tired in 2013. Cooper said he watched video of when Boggs was good and also last season when he looked “out of whack.”
Per fangraphs.com, Boggs’ fastball averaged 94.2 mph last season, down from 95.8 in 2012 when he had a 2.21 ERA in 78 regular-season appearances.
“We’re getting him fresh,” Cooper said. “It’s in progress. It didn’t go well yesterday for him. But I kind of think he’s learning to pitch and going out there and working on the stuff we’re working on. What I’m going to tell him is, ‘Hey, I want you to go out there and pitch to your strengths and continue to work on the weaknesses.’ … It’s unfair to make a decision negatively on anybody after three innings.”
Boggs said he and Cooper have focused on little details this spring. Cooper also requested for Boggs to work on his command away to left-handed hitters and inside to righties, something he has struggled with in the past.
Boggs did so Tuesday, even when he got into trouble.
“That’s something I have never done a ton of,” Boggs said. “I’m a sinkerball guy. That’s something I have been working on here early in games and have probably done that in situations where I wouldn't do it and I think I’m going to benefit from that. I think it’s going to be a weapon.”
Based on how he feels, Boggs believes the fastball will be one of his strengths.
He’s just being patient and waiting for it. He’d prefer not to have outings like Tuesday’s. But he also has good perspective on it, too.
“I’ll get stronger as the year goes on,” Boggs said. “The biggest thing is be consistent and compete and the other stuff will fall into place...I’ve had a couple of good outings and a couple of ones where I’ve given up runs. I don’t want to that but at the same time it’s March 12. I feel good about how my arm feels and I feel excited about the next couple of weeks.”