López, Crochet dazzle in Cactus debuts

March 6th, 2021

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- made a strong statement in his pursuit of the White Sox fifth starter’s spot with two scoreless innings during a 7-0 victory over Cleveland at Goodyear Ballpark on Saturday.

Working from the stretch and showing off a shorter arm action on delivery, López struck out Jake Bauers and recorded four outs via the ground ball. , who probably has the early edge for the rotation’s fifth spot, threw three up-downs in a simulated game early Saturday and could see Cactus League action soon.

“I'd be fine having three or four guys for the two spots,” said White Sox manager Tony La Russa, referring to the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, although seems to have a stronghold at No. 4. “That would be really good for us.”

“Honestly, I've always thought about this game as a competition,” said López through interpreter Billy Russo. “That's the way that I see it, a competition with the other team and a competition with yourself. One thing that keeps me motivated, besides the competition, is how good this team looks. We are looking very good, and that is something that is making me even more excited.”

López’s new arm action has made all his pitches better, with better action and more life, especially the fastball, per the right-hander. He added that the spin rate on his fastball has improved, leaving the 27-year-old confident despite coming off two rough seasons.

“I've always been positive,” López said. “You're going to have ups and downs in your life, whatever you do, whatever your profession is. The key is just to keep working, be focused on the things you need to improve upon and just be positive. That's been my mindset, and I'm still a positive person.”

Crochet makes Cactus League debut
It’s not often a pitcher makes his Cactus League debut after his big league debut, but that scenario played out for . The White Sox left-hander, who went from being Chicago's 2020 first-round Draft selection to the Majors last year, threw a scoreless inning Saturday.

Crochet topped out at 99 mph with his fastball, sitting consistently in the 97-98 mph range.

“It felt really good to get back out there on the mound and compete against another team,” Crochet said. “The arm feels good, so that’s the main takeaway. I felt really good with my offspeed. Fastball command waivered a little bit but for the most part, I felt very confident with it.

“After going through the offseason, I was able to let it soak in. The Spring Training buildup is a lot slower than the college buildup to the season, so I’ve been able to take it in stride and take in each moment. I’ve had questions here and there but for the most part, it has gone pretty smooth.”

La Russa mentioned in a pregame Zoom Saturday how Crochet will be a valuable part of the last third of the game out of the White Sox bullpen, basically working in a setup role.

“I don’t really concern myself with the role,” Crochet said. “I just like to follow orders, and right now, I’m concerned with coming out of the bullpen and getting outs for the White Sox.”

Third to first
had two hits and a stolen base as part of La Russa’s first Cactus League win of 2021. delivered a bases-clearing double in the third.

has been recovering from a mild oblique strain, but he was back at workouts Saturday morning at Camelback Ranch. He should be back and ready in a few weeks, per the White Sox.

• With getting the start Monday against the Dodgers, will throw a live BP session in camp.

“See how [Keuchel] feels day to day, ramp him up again,” La Russa said. "He's got -- especially what he looked like in live batting practice -- his command, his pitches; he's a veteran. Just make sure we physically take care of him and the other things will fall into place.”

He said it
“Michael is a guy I knew about in college. I saw a young guy throwing hard and he was jacked. I wanted to go to college, throw hard and be jacked. I’m thankful now I’m able to play catch with him and take advice from him day after day. The guy is an incredibly hard worker and I’m definitely lucky I got paired up with him.”
-- Crochet, on the high-octane throwing-partner tandem he has formed with