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Notes: Cease's debut; Robert's spot; Gio update

@JesseSanchezMLB
February 23, 2020

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Dylan Cease tried his best to articulate the sensation he felt on the mound and what everyone witnessed during his Cactus League debut on Sunday in a 7-2 win against the Reds. “When you're feeling it with your body ... it's hard to explain, but when you're

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Dylan Cease tried his best to articulate the sensation he felt on the mound and what everyone witnessed during his Cactus League debut on Sunday in a 7-2 win against the Reds.

“When you're feeling it with your body ... it's hard to explain, but when you're feeling it, you don't have to think about, ‘All right, what am I doing with this, what am I doing with that?’” Cease, 24, said from the visitor’s clubhouse at Goodyear Ballpark. “It just happens naturally. It's really easy to get into a rhythm and get going."

Cease was definitely feeling it on Sunday. His fastballs were in the mid-90s, and he showed good command during his two scoreless innings. He eventually walked off the field also feeling good about the state of his changeup, slider and curveball. Overall, he said he “had a better feel today than I did at any point last season,” which is quite a statement in itself.

Last season, Cease posted a 5.79 ERA over 14 starts. He walked 35 and allowed 15 home runs against 81 strikeouts in 73 innings with the White Sox. On Sunday, he allowed three hits and struck out three. He also hit a batter.

Cease credits a mechanical adjustment he made during the final month of last season to his improved comfort on the mound. It’s a feeling he hopes to carry through the rest of Cactus League play and into the 2020 campaign.

“My arm feels great, my body feels great,” he said. “It was coming out good. I really couldn't be happier with that outing."

Robert bats eighth
It’s too early to tell where Luis Robert will hit in the lineup this season, but the club is going to use Spring Training to find out which spot suits him best.

On Saturday, Robert was penciled in as the leadoff hitter against the Angels in a game that was eventually rained out. On Sunday against the Reds, he started in center field and hit eighth. He finished 0-for-2.

“We'll have plenty of time this spring for Luis in the top spot in the lineup,” manager Rick Renteria said. ”He's a guy that, for us, projects -- as he finally and ultimately becomes who he's supposed to be -- anywhere from a guy that can hit one through five. That's his talent level.”

Robert lined out to left field in the second inning in his first at-bat and grounded out to shortstop in the fifth.

Gio on the G-O
Left-hander Gio González (left shoulder discomfort) spun a few curveballs and threw some changeups during his long-toss and flat-ground throwing sessions on Sunday and is on track to throw a side session by the end of the week.

“You know what? If the time comes and I get to strap on some cleats and get off the mound, I’ll be ready to roll,” said González, who is tentatively scheduled for a bullpen session on Thursday. “I’m happy about today. I just wanted to see how I feel tomorrow. I’m trying to cram in two days of long toss, flat ground and speed up what I missed a couple of weeks ago.”

González, who is projected to be part of the Opening Day starting rotation, had an MRI exam on his shoulder following the initial discomfort and has been working out in the weight room and training room since.

“He's progressing well. He's actually doing everything I want him to do in terms of feeling free and easy and pain free,” Renteria said. “We're going to continue to bring him along guardedly.”

As for González, he remains upbeat and optimistic.

“All in all, it’s big-time progress to where I started to where I am now,” González said. “There’s nothing going to keep me from being ready for Opening Day. I just got to keep working hard.”

Up next
The White Sox will play their first game at Camelback Ranch in 2020 Cactus League play on Monday against the Dodgers. The 2:05 p.m. CT matchup will be available on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio. Right-hander Alex McRae is scheduled to start, with Evan Marshall, Jacob Lindgren, Codi Heuer, Adalberto Mejia and Ian Hamilton also scheduled to pitch.

Jesse Sanchez, who has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.