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Soria unfazed by struggles in spring debut

Jimenez dealing with tendinitis in knee; Infante nears Cactus League debut
Special to MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox veteran reliever Joakim Soria knows the drill.

Closers, even prospective ones, typically only draw attention to themselves either through extended stretches of extreme dominance or afternoons like the one Soria had in his Cactus League debut for the White Sox against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch on Friday.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox veteran reliever Joakim Soria knows the drill.

Closers, even prospective ones, typically only draw attention to themselves either through extended stretches of extreme dominance or afternoons like the one Soria had in his Cactus League debut for the White Sox against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch on Friday.

Soria, working the third inning an eventual 7-6 White Sox loss, couldn't fool anyone. He faced five batters and didn't record an out. Yasmani Grandal led off with a double, and Travis Taijeron and Alex Verdugo followed with singles. Jake Peter then hit a three-run home run, and after a ground-rule double from Edwin Rios, Soria's debut was over.

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"It's part of the job," Soria said Saturday. "I mean, it's part of your job, too. You just have to see what's going on and why that happens. I'm used to that stuff. There's no worries. Obviously, you want to do everything good, but if it doesn't happen, that's why we're in Spring Training.

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"It's location, some mechanics stuff, too. I'll go over it with [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] and just get ready for this next outing and try to execute better pitches low in the zone and see how it goes."

Soria, entering his 11th Major League season with 204 career saves to his name, is one of the few experienced arms on a young White Sox pitching staff that saw David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle shipped to the Yankees before last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline. A cavalcade of inexperienced arms formed a closer by committee, leaving the door open for Soria to claim the full-time role for the first time since the start of 2015 with the Tigers.

The 33-year-old is next scheduled to pitch sixth in Chicago's game against the Athletics in Mesa on Monday.

"It's part of getting ready," Soria said of his struggles on Friday. "I don't blame anyone but me. I just needed to execute better pitches and keeping working towards this season. I mean, I can't do anything about it. I can worry about the stuff I can control. Right now, I'm just moving forward towards the next outing and being better, pitching better."

White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Soria, who is one of the club's most veteran players, has no need for concern after the initial outing.

"I think most of the at-bats, the contact that was made was on all his secondary pitches, offspeed pitches, and they weren't hitting his fastball. I think he's just trying to figure out why. I think he and [Cooper] talked a little bit about maybe being a little bit taller with the ball, seeing if that puts him in a better position. But I wouldn't be too overly concerned. It's his first outing."

Jimenez feeling improvement
Eloy Jimenez is dealing with patellar tendinitis in his left knee, which could keep him out for a few days. The White Sox top prospect still has a smile on his face, though.

"A lot of improvement," Jimenez said through interpreter Billy Russo. "I felt much better."

Between Class A Advanced and Double-A with the Cubs and White Sox organizations last season, Jimenez combined for 19 home runs and 65 RBIs in 89 games, notching an impressive .947 OPS. He expects to be back in action sooner rather than later.

"I'm not too concerned about this. I don't think it's something serious. My concern is that I want to be playing right now, but I'm just losing playing time. I would say it's more disappointment than frustration."

Video: Renteria provides insight on Jimenez's injury

Infante nearing game action
White Sox reliever Gregory Infante, who has what Renteria described as shoulder inflammation, threw a bullpen session on Friday. Infante could throw again on either Sunday or Monday before getting into Cactus League play.

"It was just some shoulder soreness, a little inflammation," Renteria said. "But he doesn't feel anything, which is great. We just want to make sure he can go out, do a side. I think it's tomorrow, might be Monday, but we'll see that he still continues to be free and easy and pain-free and get him back on track."

The 30-year-old Infante excelled in his first full season in the Majors, posting a 3.13 ERA in 52 appearances.

Fabian Ardaya is a contributor to MLB.com.

Chicago White Sox, Joakim Soria