Chris Sale fine tunes as White Sox set rotation

Chris Sale fine tunes as White Sox set rotation
March 25, 2014, 7:45 pm
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Chris Sale made his last start of the spring on Tuesday, and Robin Ventura set his rotation.

The White Sox ace is set to make his second straight Opening Day start after he allowed two earned runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings in a 4-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies. But the White Sox manager had already made that much known. What Ventura has added to the equation is that Felipe Paulino will pitch Game 2 and is to be followed in order by Jose Quintana, Erik Johnson and John Danks.

The plan is not only for the White Sox to break up their left-handers but also to insulate themselves from tiring out the bullpen with their innings-eaters pitching in between Paulino, who’s coming off two surgeries, and Johnson, a rookie.

“Break up the lefties and righties so just feel comfortable going with that where they are set and where they are at right now they can slide in those spots,” Ventura said. “You feel solid with that. I think (Danks) could be anywhere in there, right behind Chris. I feel good.”

[MORE: Gillaspie happy with how he has adjusted]

Sale has felt ready for next Monday’s opener for several weeks.

He said he shook off some of the rust against Colorado on Tuesday. Aside from a two-run first inning, Sale looked sharp. He previously threw 100 pitches in a simulated, seven-inning simulated performance against White Sox minor leaguers on Thursday. In that appearance, Sale said he worked on arm-side command, “one all extension side,” as well as working out of the slide step and the stretch.

“Got some good work in on the off day,” Sale said. “Today, other than the first inning it went well. Just build on top of that from there.”

The White Sox elected to have Quintana and Johnson stay in Arizona to pitch against minor leaguers. Quintana pitches on Friday and Johnson goes Saturday before heading to Chicago to rejoin the team.

[RELATED: Beckham improved but still uncertain for White Sox opener]

Nieto’s earned job

Ventura won’t make any announcements on the team’s Opening Day roster until Sunday. But he confirmed catcher Adrian Nieto, a Rule 5 pick, is the likely choice to backup Tyler Flowers. Nieto’s agent tweeted Monday that Nieto has made the roster.

“Barring nothing strange, that would probably happen,” Ventura said. “He has earned it. He’s had a good spring, but we still have until Sunday so stranger things have happened.”

Other notes

— One game after he walked three batters, Nate Jones allowed two earned runs and three hits in 1 1/3 innings on Tuesday. Jones also struck out three batters and has a 2.70 ERA.

— Matt Lindstrom, Daniel Webb, Ronald Belisario and Maikel Cleto all pitched scoreless innings in Tuesday’s loss.

— The White Sox will face Ricky Nolasco, Kevin Correia and Phillip Hughes when Minnesota comes to town next week. The Kansas City Royals will then throw Jeremy Guthrie, Bruce Chen and James Shields against White Sox in Kansas City.