As long preseason ends, Ventura ready to get going

As long preseason ends, Ventura ready to get going
March 30, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Jimmy Carlton

MILWAUKEE -- Like everyone else, Robin Ventura is tired of exhibition games and ready for the regular season to begin.

During his pregame media session Saturday afternoon, the subdued White Sox manager talked briefly about the state of his team before the inquiries dwindled and a quiet lull indicated there just weren’t many questions left to ask.

“I feel the same way,” he said to the assembled reporters.

After over a month of Cactus League games in Arizona, the White Sox conclude spring training with the second of two exhibition games against the Milwaukee Brewers Saturday afternoon. Afterward, the team will leave Miller Park and take a bus back to Chicago to prepare for Opening Day.

And it was clear Ventura couldn’t be more eager for it to arrive.

“We’re ready to get going,” he said. “Guys are optimistic about Opening Day and how that all goes. I’m the same way; just want to get it going.”

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Ventura then ceded the floor to Adam Dunn’s young son, who was standing nearby wearing a full White Sox uniform, and asked him if he had anything to add. The child, displaying shrewd media savvy, declined to comment.

And so, weary of the preseason grind and excited to begin playing games that matter, the White Sox took the field to warm-up for their final spring tune-up.

Right-hander Gavin Floyd was named the starter against the Brewers, but Ventura said Dylan Axelrod would get the majority of work on the mound.

“He’s going to be the one that gets the bulk of it,” Ventura said of Axelrod, who was named the fifth starter in the rotation.

Ventura added that the plan was more or less the same as Friday, when the regulars played the first five or six innings before giving way to backups and minor-leaguers.

Besides Axelrod, Ventura said, “everybody else will probably come out pretty quick.”

[Related: Axelrod's focus helped earn rotation spot]

Crain makes the team

Right-hander Jessie Crain pitched a strong inning in the White Sox 7-2 win over the Brewers on Friday, felt good physically afterward and will be on the 25-man Opening Day roster.

Ventura said Saturday that Crain had no health problems the morning after his 11-pitch, three-batter appearance in the fifth inning, which meant he’d be on the team and in the bullpen for Monday’s opener against the Kansas City Royals.

“Everything’s good, he made the team,” Ventura said. “That’s one of those things that’s a big hurtle for us to get over, as far as making a decision on him.

“He’s available for Monday.”

Ventura said he was pleased with Crain’s aggressiveness on the mound against Milwaukee on Friday, a characteristic that had been lacking in the reliever’s previous appearances. Crain pitched in only three spring training games due to a strained right adductor (hip).

[More: A look at the White Sox 25-man roster]

“The last couple (appearances) in Arizona, I think he was tentative when he went out there,” Ventura said. “But last night he looked like what you would think, as far as his effort and everything else. He looked like you normally see him. It was a comforting inning to watch him pitch.”

A healthy Crain would be a big boost for the White Sox bullpen, which will also lean heavily on fellow righties Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom, Ventura said.

“(Crain) was a big part of it last year,” Ventura said. “You start looking at the righties that are out there with Nate Jones and Lindstrom, last year it was Jesse.”

Ventura added that right-fielder Alex Rios, who missed the final five Cactus League games because of lower back stiffness, is healthy and ready for Opening Day. Rios went 1-2 with a double and two runs scored on Friday and said he felt fine.