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Skill unquestioned, Quintana aims to improve

Rodon makes rehab start; White Sox prospects Kopech, Dunning also take hill
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CLEVELAND -- Todd Frazier had a message for Jose Quintana following Chicago's 4-2 loss to Cleveland on Sunday at Progressive Field, dropping the team's ace to 2-8 with a 5.30 ERA this season.

It's the same message Frazier delivers to Quintana every time he takes the mound.

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CLEVELAND -- Todd Frazier had a message for Jose Quintana following Chicago's 4-2 loss to Cleveland on Sunday at Progressive Field, dropping the team's ace to 2-8 with a 5.30 ERA this season.

It's the same message Frazier delivers to Quintana every time he takes the mound.

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"He's an awesome pitcher. I don't have one worry in my bones that he's not going to be a stellar pitcher still in this league," Frazier said. "I have all the confidence in the world in him. He's a No. 1 pitcher for a reason. He's earned that spot."

Quintana didn't pitch poorly on Sunday, giving up three runs on five hits over five innings, while striking out three and walking two. Edwin Encarnacion's one-out double in the second was the hardest contact Quintana allowed.

But 10 three-ball counts drove up Quintana's pitch total to 95 and caused the early exit. It's more of the same in terms of 2017 fastball command for the '16 All-Star, who has six quality starts, but none over the last four times he has taken the mound.

"I'm close. I feel pretty good. I fight every start. I want to be better, I want to get better for my team, better outings," Quintana said. "It doesn't happen often for me in the past, but I keep fighting, I keep going.

"Just try to get every hitter on three pitches. Try to make contact, and get outs on three pitches. Today I felt off with my delivery, especially fastball in, and missed a couple spots, 3-2 counts. They have a pretty good lineup too, but I missed my spot a couple times and too many high counts."

Sunday stood as a future look at the White Sox starting rotation throughout the Minor Leagues.

Carlos Rodon, who has been on the disabled list since the end of Spring Training due to left biceps bursitis, allowed four runs on five hits over 3 2/3 innings in his first injury rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte and his second injury rehab start overall. The southpaw threw 44 of his 84 pitches for strikes, striking out three and walking four.

Michael Kopech, the White Sox No. 2 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, threw 91 pitches over 3 2/3 innings with three strikeouts and four walks for Double-A Birmingham. Dane Dunning, the No. 11 prospect, fanned five in 5 2/3 innings for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem.

Video: Top Prospects: Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox

A White Sox fit exists for all of these young hurlers moving forward. Quintana, meanwhile, resides in a state of limbo. He certainly could help the team with three more years of control after 2017, but he also could bring back a solid prospect haul via trade.

For now, Quintana focuses only on his next start -- not past missteps this season or what his future holds.

"This game is in the past for me, so focus on next, on tomorrow and start my preparation for the next start," Quintana said. "I want to do better. I know I'm a better pitcher."

"We have his back," Frazier said. "I hope he understands that because I tell him that every day."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Jose Quintana