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Lopez eyes White Sox fifth rotation spot

Right-hander allows one run over three innings on Sunday vs. the D-backs
MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If White Sox right-hander Reynaldo Lopez expects to make the Opening Day roster as the club's fifth starter, he's going to need more performances like he had on Sunday.

Lopez, the White Sox No. 4 prospect and No. 46 in baseball, allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts over three innings during a 4-1 loss to the D-backs at Salt River Fields. The results were much better than his first Cactus League start, when he allowed five runs over 1 1/3 innings against the Reds on Feb. 28. On Sunday against the D-backs, Lopez even struck out D-backs slugger Paul Goldschmidt twice.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If White Sox right-hander Reynaldo Lopez expects to make the Opening Day roster as the club's fifth starter, he's going to need more performances like he had on Sunday.

Lopez, the White Sox No. 4 prospect and No. 46 in baseball, allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts over three innings during a 4-1 loss to the D-backs at Salt River Fields. The results were much better than his first Cactus League start, when he allowed five runs over 1 1/3 innings against the Reds on Feb. 28. On Sunday against the D-backs, Lopez even struck out D-backs slugger Paul Goldschmidt twice.

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"When I faced him I thought, 'This is a moment when I must challenge myself and see if I'm able to handle being in the Majors,'" the 23-year-old Dominican pitcher said through club translator Billy Russo. "And I did it. Every time you face one of those guys, you want to do your best. And I did it today."

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When it was pointed out that he did it twice, Lopez broke into a big grin. "Yes," he said.

Lopez came to the White Sox in the Dec. 7 trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Nationals. Lucas Giolito, who was also acquired in that deal, is also in the rotation mix this spring. The White Sox have Jose Quintana, James Shields, Derek Holland and Carlos Rodon all but locked into the rotation, assuming everyone remains healthy.

The race is on for the final spot. The White Sox like that Lopez made 11 appearances -- six starts -- last season for the Nationals. He also threw two innings in the National League Division Series against the Dodgers.

Before Sunday's game, White Sox manager Rick Renteria anticipated a better outing from Lopez than his Cactus League debut. Since then, he had been working with veteran pitcher coach Don Cooper on locating his pitches.

"We want him to keep the ball down," Renteria said.

Lopez did that, throwing 52 pitches, 33 for strikes. The White Sox said that he had touched 100 mph on their radar gun, and he also mixed in his secondary pitches well.

"They were good today," Lopez said. "Curveball was good, was low into some. Changeup, too. I tried some sliders."

Obviously, he added, he expects to make the team. Given more results like those against Goldschmidt and the D-backs, the possibility increases.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

Chicago White Sox, Reynaldo Lopez