GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dylan Axelrod knows he is one of those guys who is never guaranteed a roster spot.
Despite appearing in the majors in each of the past three seasons, the pitcher knows if he ever plays for the White Sox again he has to prove that he belongs. A non-roster invitee to camp this spring, Axelrod has an even bigger challenge to make the team.
Axelrod made his first start of the spring Friday and spread out two hits and two walks over three scoreless innings.
“I always feel like I’m the guy who has to prove himself,” Axelrod said. “So in that regard, it’s the same sort of thing. I guess even now, I have a little more of the chip on my shoulder or something.”
Axelrod likens his 2013 experience, when he went 4-11 with a 5.68 ERA in 30 games (20 starts), to a bit of a roller coaster ride.
The right-hander made the starting rotation out of spring training because John Danks wasn’t ready. Through 12 starts, Axelrod gave the White Sox more than they could have projected as he had a 3.73 ERA through 70 innings. The White Sox were 6-6 in Axelrod’s starts.
But things unraveled in a hurry in mid-June as Axelrod had a 9.32 ERA over a six-start stretch (29 earned runs in 28 innings). Axelrod stayed in the majors the rest of the season but was moved to the bullpen until the final 10 days, when he made two more starts.
“I was real happy with how I came out of the gate,” Axelrod said. “For whatever reason, I couldn’t sustain it so I look at it as something to learn like how to continue that all year -- whether it’s making physical adjustments or mental adjustments. I feel like I learned a lot last year I can carry forward.”
Axelrod, who has allowed a run over eight innings this spring, said he altered his mechanics over the offseason. He described his delivery as shorter and when he’s executing it keeps the ball hidden longer. There are still some kinks to be worked out but Axelrod likes the approach -- especially if it helps him get back to the majors.
“When I do it right, the ball comes out well,” Axelrod said. “I’m excited about that. … I know I have to do the same thing I’ve always done and work real hard. Put my best foot forward and see what happens.”