GLENDALE, Ariz. — Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez has the best arm in the White Sox’ starting rotation, and he might have the best changeup as well. So that’s two nice pieces of competitive stuff to take to the mound.
But Lopez, 24, might have more. His slider is nothing to sneeze at, either. He said the changeup passed up his curve to rate as his second-best pitch, but he has designs on making the slider even better than the changeup.
Lopez isn’t short on confidence and has the lofty expectations to go with it.
“Fifteen wins, a 2-point-something ERA and 200 strikeouts,” he said during the first week of spring training.
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Those are big goals, he was told.
“Yes,” he said with a smile, nodding in agreement.
Of the three pitchers acquired from the Nationals in the trade for Adam Eaton two Decembers ago (Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Dane Dunning) Lopez looked the most advanced last year in spring training. He was the first to be called up, and he posted a 3-3 record with a 4.72 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 30 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings over eight starts.
“He’s got a really good arm,” manager Rick Renteria said Friday. “The ball comes out of his hand really easily and gets on top of hitters — quite frankly, sometimes with a surprise element. It has late life.
“To say he has the best arm . . . we’ll see how [Carlos Rodon] comes back and continues to recover [from arthroscopic shoulder surgery].”
Lopez said pitching coach Don Cooper advised him during spring training last year to throw more changeups. When he came to the big leagues, “all of a sudden the changeup is better than the breaking ball,” Cooper said.
So much better that Cooper says he can’t recall having another right-hander who could consistently hit his spot down and away to right-handed hitters with the changeup.
“With the experience from last spring training, last season in [Class AAA] and the big leagues, I feel more confident now,” Lopez said.
Giolito, who posted a 2.38 ERA after he was called up, knows how big that is.
“Trusting the stuff — that’s really important, and I was able to do that last year,” Giolito said. “But I need to build off that.’’
The Sox are now looking for Lopez and Giolito — plus Carson Fulmer in the starting rotation — to take another significant step.
“We’re still working it,” Lopez said.
NOTES: Yoan Moncada arrived Friday and took part in hitting and fielding drills. Jose Abreu is expected to participate Saturday. The first full squad workout is Monday. Leury Garcia and prized outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert have yet to report.
• NBC Sports Chicago and NBC Sports Chicago+ will televise 107 Sox games, beginning with Opening Day. WGN-TV will air 55 games. New radio flagship WGN 720-AM will broadcast all 162 games.
• Ten Cactus League games will be broadcast on 720-AM, including the opener Friday against the Dodgers and the three games against the Cubs.
• New catcher Welington Castillo on his hoped-for workload: “If you ask me that question, you want to play every day. But that’s not in my hands. I’m going to prepare to play every day and put that in the skipper’s hands.”
• The Bovada sportsbook released its over/under win totals, listing the Sox at 68 wins. The only team below them is the Marlins (64½).
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