White Sox: Smooth sailing for Erik Johnson in spring debut

White Sox: Smooth sailing for Erik Johnson in spring debut
March 4, 2014, 5:30 pm
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GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Erik Johnson negotiated a powerful Indians lineup in his spring debut Tuesday at Goodyear Ballpark, allowing one run on three hits with two strikeouts and a walk in three innings pitched.

It was a step toward locking down a spot in the White Sox rotation, one Johnson appears likely to get. He's among five starters getting regular, every-five-days work on the onset of spring training, along with Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, John Danks and Felipe Paulino.

[MORE: White Sox notes: Jeff Keppinger makes spring debut]

But Johnson isn't thinking that far ahead, not with just under four weeks until Opening Day.

"For me, it's pitch to pitch," Johnson said. "I mean, it's tough getting a lineup like that out so for me, it's taking it pitch by pitch and really focusing in on each start then building off this one to the next one."

Johnson, a consensus top five prospect in the White Sox system, impressed the team in five starts last season. While it wasn't a large sample size, the impression he left will likely carry more weight in his efforts to secure a rotation spot than a handful of Cactus League innings.

"He's got stuff, but he competes when he goes out there," manager Robin Ventura said. "I think anytime you have that with his kind of stuff, he's going to be a good pitcher."