GLENDALE, Ariz. — It's been nearly two years since Jose Quintana made his major league debut as a little-known extra called up for a doubleheader in Cleveland. The left-hander made the leap from Double-A and shut out the Indians over 5 2/3 innings, allowing one hit and two walks with three strikeouts.
That game has served as a broad microcosm for Quintana's two seasons with the White Sox, in that his success has some quietly (and without a whole lot of wins).
"He was an absolute veteran out there," catcher Tyler Flowers recalled. "Not only did he do a good job, but the way he handled it — he got in a couple situations and didn't deter from his game plan and continued to execute.
"… He's been a model of consistency pretty much every time since he got with us."
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Quintana threw 200 innings with a 3.51 ERA in 2013, solidifying himself as a rock-solid No. 2 starter behind ace Chris Sale. But he had as many starts with seven or more innings pitched (11) as he did starts that went fewer than six. That's something he's aiming to change in 2014.
"I want more," Quintana said after his Cactus League debut Monday. "I want every start seven or more innings."
Over the winter, Quintana focused on endurance training and adding muscle to his lower half. The 200-inning mark was a solid benchmark, but if Quintana's goal is to average seven innings per start he'll experience another increase in his workload.
"He’s strong enough to do it," manager Robin Ventura said. "He’s a good enough pitcher and strong enough to do it. I’m glad he has that kind of a goal for himself to be able to do that."
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Quintana threw three innings Monday against Kansas City, allowing two runs on two hits with two walks and a strikeout. It was your typical spring start, with the lefty looking to get a feel for his pitches in his first game action since September.
"He was picking around the plate a little early -- I think with two outs, just picking a little bit too much and gets in trouble," Ventura said. "Other than that, he was fine. He got through it. He was strong. After that throwing strikes and he looked fine."
Quintana's success hasn't come with a blazing fastball, nasty breaking ball or disappearing changeup. He doesn't have a lot of bravado and flair when he's on the mound.
Instead, his success has come with a calm, confident demeanor that's not always a given.
"He doesn't have the mid-upper 90's fastball, but what he does have is the mentality, the confidence, the belief that he can execute any pitch at any time," Flowers said. "I think only the elite pitchers, the No. 1 kind of guys, can have that mentality and be successful."