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Notes: Keuchel throws BP; Fry still sidelined

@scottmerkin
February 26, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dallas Keuchel considers himself ahead of schedule as he prepares for his first campaign with the White Sox. So, throwing a live bullpen on the back fields of Camelback Ranch on Wednesday instead of pitching in the Royals’ 7-6 victory over the White Sox fit nicely into

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dallas Keuchel considers himself ahead of schedule as he prepares for his first campaign with the White Sox.

So, throwing a live bullpen on the back fields of Camelback Ranch on Wednesday instead of pitching in the Royals’ 7-6 victory over the White Sox fit nicely into Keuchel's schedule, even if it was a little tougher to get into the flow of things.

“It's kind of afforded me the luxury to take one of these games, even though I really didn't want it that much,” Keuchel said. “I got to face [Yasmani] Grandal and then a couple of guys, I mean, [Grandal is] working his way back, so it was nice to face a big league guy with an approach.

“If you make mistakes, he'll make you pay for it. It’s a good first step. And like I said, I'm already ahead of schedule. So just hoping to build from here.”

Keuchel got up and down three times, which is probably deeper than he would have gone if he debuted on one of the main fields. Grandal, who continues to work his way back from a left calf strain, saw live pitching for the first time this spring. Keuchel joined the White Sox on a three-year, $55.5 million deal with a club option for 2023.

Keuchel slots in behind Lucas Giolito as the White Sox No. 2 hurler in the rotation -- if everyone is healthy -- and explained Wednesday why he considers himself ahead of the pace to be regular-season ready.

“Well, I just kind of know my routine for the last five, six years,” Keuchel said. “Every year is different, but at this point in time, I'm usually not throwing breaking balls as consistently as I am right now.

“Physically, I feel phenomenal. I got up and down three times, which is really ahead of schedule for a lot of starters at this point. But I know backfield competition is not the same as going out at 1 o'clock and facing the Royals just like I was supposed to today.”

Fry working through back issue
Left-handed reliever Jace Fry, who has appeared in 127 combined games over the past two seasons, has been sidelined by back soreness.

“Not sure how far along from the point we’ll get him back out there but he’s starting to move around and feels better,” said White Sox manager Rick Renteria of Fry. “Everybody who has ever had a sore back, or any ailment, knows you have to continue to strengthen the core and do anything you can to stabilize things.

“But thankfully he’s doing well. Hopefully he’ll be set before we get him back out there to start.”

Fry looks to be one of the seven locks of the eight White Sox bullpen slots. If Fry’s back issues persist, the Sox could turn to non-roster invitee Adalberto Mejía as the second southpaw. Mejia has made 37 relief appearances in 62 career games.

Burdi happy to be back
For the first time since June 20 of last season, Zack Burdi returned to the mound in game competition. The No. 26 pick in the 2016 Draft has been sidelined by Tommy John surgery ('17) and right knee surgery ('19), but entered Spring Training completely healthy.

Burdi, 24, made quick work of the Giants on Tuesday, retiring San Francisco with one lineout and two groundouts in the eighth.

“It was exciting, probably the best way to put it,” Burdi said. “After the first surgery, it was exciting to get back out there again. After the second one, I was really grateful for the opportunity from the White Sox to be in big league camp and to have that chance to compete against those guys.

“The biggest thing was just getting out there and kind of shaking those nerves and that first pitch, that first out, it was huge. That definitely allowed me to get comfortable. Just building off that and the next guy got 3-0 and to get back into that count and to get into that competing mode was really nice.”

Being nervous before an outing was nothing new for Burdi, who did admit to pacing around the bullpen a bit before coming in.

“It’s been that way ever since college,” Burdi said. “Kind of just built up being at Louisville and closing, it’s just kind of a natural thing. I love it. I use it to my advantage and there’s a lot of adrenaline going through my body so, yeah, it was good. But definitely natural.”

Third to first

• Adam Engel hit a three-run homer in the White Sox loss to the Royals on Wednesday.

• One-time White Sox reliever Jesse Crain visited Camelback Ranch.

They said it

“I had to refresh my memory of how Spring Training kind of operated just because I had my own Spring Training last year. It's nice here. It's my first time in Arizona, too, so I get a taste of the desert and that hasn't disappointed so far.” -- Keuchel

Up next

The White Sox return home to Camelback Ranch to face the Mariners with a 2:05 p.m. CT first pitch on a game being broadcast via an exclusive video webcast only available on MLB.com. Ross Detwiler, who made 12 starts for the Sox last season, gets the call Thursday with Codi Heuer, Evan Marshall and Ian Hamilton among the hurlers also scheduled to throw.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.