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Kopech 'out of sync' in rough outing vs. Royals

Shields pitches four solid innings in spring debut vs. Rangers
Special to MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox prized pitching prospect Michael Kopech had his first Spring Training hiccup Thursday.

Kopech had allowed one unearned run and four hits while striking out six and walking one over 4 1/3 innings in his first two starts.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox prized pitching prospect Michael Kopech had his first Spring Training hiccup Thursday.

Kopech had allowed one unearned run and four hits while striking out six and walking one over 4 1/3 innings in his first two starts.

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Spring Training information

A Kansas City Royals split squad roughed up Kopech at Camelback Ranch in a 12-0 White Sox loss. He faced 14 batters and eight reached base -- four hits, including a Jorge Soler home run, three walks and a hit batter. He was removed after 56 pitches and 2 1/3 innings, yielding five runs.

"Rough," Kopech succinctly described his outing. "Nothing was really going where I wanted it to. I didn't really have a feel for any of my pitches today aside from my changeup, which was kind of a surprise. So I probably should have thrown more of those in hindsight.

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"I couldn't stay in control of my body. I tried to slow things down. I was out of sync. My arm was ahead of my body. I just never really got into a rhythm. I gave away a lot of free bases."

Kopech has a 2.74 ERA in the Minors, so that was an aberration.

"It's not normal," he said. "It's not something I've dealt with too much. It is Spring Training, so I have the opportunity to figure out what my mechanical issue was. A lot of it is probably focus, too."

Soler hit a first pitch out to left in the third inning.

"That's where not throwing a pitch with conviction shows up," Kopech said. "It's probably the slowest fastball I've thrown since I was 17 years old, just trying to get a ball over the plate. Obviously, it didn't work out."

MLB Pipeline ranks Kopech as the No. 2 prospect in the White Sox system, No. 10 overall and the No. 3 right-handed prospect.

"I'm not going to make any excuses for myself," Kopech said. "I didn't have a good outing. I just have to put it behind me. I know that's not who I am. I'm not going to be that guy every time I go out on the mound.

"It is spring. It is a time where these runs don't necessarily matter. It would be nice to put some zeros on the board, but if there is a time when we mess up, this is not a bad time to do it, I guess."

Shields makes Cactus debut

James Shields made his first start of the Cactus League and allowed one run in four innings of a 5-4 White Sox split-squad loss to the Rangers in Surprise. He allowed three hits and one walk while striking out three.

"First outing of the spring, it felt a little weird," Shields said. "But for the first game of Spring Training and facing hitters, overall I felt good. I was getting a lot of ground balls. I was doing that at the end of last year and I was glad to see it carry over."

Jimenez campaigning to play

Outfielder Eloy Jimenez's favorite song lyric has to be John Fogerty's "Put me in, coach, I'm ready to play."

Jimenez is bending the ear of manager Rick Renteria to play him after being held back in Spring Training with left knee tendinitis.

Jimenez would love to be in the lineup Saturday against the Cubs, the team that traded him to the White Sox last July.

"I think I can play Saturday," Jimenez said. "I'm talking to Ricky and saying, 'I'm ready to play.' He said, 'OK.'"

But that is not a definite OK.

"Yeah, you heard him asking to play as soon as he possibly can," Renteria said. "He was fully active today. We'll see how he responds after this day. We'll hear all the medicals and make sure he's in a good position to play in a ballgame. If we can get him in a game, we're going to try. If we don't, we're OK with it. The most important thing is that he was on the mend and feeling good, and right now it sounds like he's feeling good."

MLB Pipeline ranks Jimenez as the No. 1 White Sox prospect and No. 4 overall.

"I feel pretty good right now," he said. "I'm not 100 percent, but I'm close."

Injury update

Outfielder Luis Robert, who hit an eighth-inning grand slam Wednesday, had a wrap on his left thumb.

"He's got a little sore thumb, so we're checking it out," Renteria said. "For us, we're very cautious."

Camp battles

Chris Volstad, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, continues to have an impressive camp. He worked two flawless innings against the Royals. In five outings, he has pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit, walking none and striking out four.

Up next

White Sox right-hander Carson Fulmer will start against a Padres split squad at Peoria on Friday at 2:10 p.m. CT. The game will be available on MLB.TV.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the White Sox on Thursday.

Chicago White Sox, Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, James Shields