GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Abreu was getting his first taste of major-league pitching, and he didn’t want to push himself away from the table.
The prized free-agent first baseman, who had two at-bats from the cleanup spot during the team’s Cactus League opener Friday, showed patience at the plate and a little pop, too, lining out deep to left field before grounding out to second in a 5-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.
“I’m trying to see a lot of pitches right now,’’ said Abreu, who signed a six-year, $68 million contract. “I want to get a feel for the strike zone, and I want to be able to see a lot of pitches so I feel comfortable swinging the bat.’’
It was only a spring-training game, but not for Abreu.
“I wasn’t that anxious, but it’s the first at-bat and it meant a lot and you do feel a certain level of anxiety,’’ Abreu said through a translator. “It was a very quality at-bat for me, and I was glad for that at-bat.’’
Abreu saw six pitches from left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu in the first and five from right-hander Kenley Jansen in the fourth. Against Ryu, Abreu lost control of his bat, throwing it high off the screen near the on-deck circle on the third-base side.
“That first at-bat I felt was a very good one,’’ he said. “I was able to come back from a so-so swing to a better swing, and I connected.
“I want as many at-bats as I can prior to the season so I can be ready. It’s a matter of seeing the ball when you’re out there. I haven’t seen live pitching in a while.’’
Chris Sale pitched 22/3 innings of one-hit ball, throwing only one slider and emphasizing his fastball and changeup command, he said. He got four strikeouts in the process, including Chone Figgins and Hanley Ramirez swinging in the first and Drew Butera and Alex Guerrero swinging in the third.
Sale said a couple change-ups slipped out of his hand but he commanded his fastball on both sides of the plate.
“It felt good,’’ he said. “I felt like I wasn’t quite as jittery as normal. I just tried to stay as calm as I could and not overthrow. Not try to make anything too nasty and that kind of stuff.’’
NOTES: Right-hander Matt Lindstrom was scheduled to pitch an inning but was scratched with a mild left oblique strain. In the mix as a possible closer candidate, Lindstrom could resume throwing Saturday according to trainer Herm Schneider.
◆ Another closer option, rookie Daniel Webb, left the team because of a death in the family and could miss a few days.
◆ Upcoming starters: John Danks on Saturday, Felipe Paulino on Sunday, Jose Quintana on Monday, Erik Johnson on Tuesday.
◆ Ventura had no update on right-hander Ronald Belisario, who is still dealing with visa problems in Venezuela.