GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Reynaldo Lopez isn’t backing down from those lofty goals he declared for himself on the first day of spring training.
“As I said before, just have 30-plus [starts] and get 200-plus innings and strike out 200-plus batters,’’ Lopez said Thursday. “Those are my goals for this year.’’
Lopez made his 2018 Cactus League debut, and it felt much different for the 24-year-old than a year ago after the Sox acquired him in the Adam Eaton trade along with Lucas Giolito and Dane Dunning. Last year, he was trying to impress, chasing a near-impossible goal of making the opening-day roster.
This year, he came to spring training as a possible No. 3 starter in the rotation and probably possessing the best arm of the lot. He said it took him an inning to get his adrenaline pumping.
“At the beginning, I was kind of low-energy,’’ said Lopez, who touched 96 mph on the scoreboard gun, struck out two, walked two and allowed a run and one soft hit in two innings.
“I feel more comfortable and confident. But even though I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anybody, I want to show to myself that I can get better and improve and still develop as a pitcher.”
Big goals II
Alec Hansen has a big goal, too: to pitch in the majors at some point this season.
“That’s a tremendous goal to have, and I wouldn’t take that from any of our guys,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “They should be shooting for that.’’
Working without his best fastball, the 6-9 Hansen, the Sox’ No. 4-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com, and the 2017 minor-league strikeout king, struck out three and walked one in 1‰ innings. He allowed three runs and three hits, one of them a fairly deep but routine fly ball that dropped between Leury Garcia and Nicky Delmonico.
Hansen’s fastball sat in the mid-90s and touched 98-99 last season, but he topped out at 93 Thursday. It would stand to reason that will pick up in future appearances.
Renteria did not express concern.
“Alec had a really live fastball,’’ Renteria said. “You look at the numbers, doesn’t seem like much, but the ball gets on top of you. It doesn’t play 91, 92; it plays 95, 96, 97.’’
As one scout sitting behind the plate said, Hansen doesn’t give away his 6-9 height with an over-the-top delivery.
“It’s like hitting against a guy standing on a three-story building,’’ the scout said.
Hansen struck out Joey Votto swinging on an elevated fastball, making the All-Star look bad with a half-swing trying to foul off the pitch.
Taking the ball
Miguel Gonzalez will make his first start Friday against the Dodgers, followed by the Sox’ top pitching prospect, Michael Kopech, against the Royals on Saturday and Carson Fulmer in his second start Sunday against the Padres.
Brandon Dixon’s two-run home run against Jose Ruiz keyed a three-run Reds ninth, dropping the Sox to 4-3 in Cactus League play after their 8-7 loss. The better late-inning relief news came from right-hander Nate Jones, who in his first outing since having elbow surgery last season pitched a perfect eighth inning. Jones, touching 96 mph, got two groundouts and an inning-ending strikeout with a wipeout slider.
Adolfo gets in the swing
Prospect Micker Adolfo, who will not play the field because of a sprained ulnar collateral ligament but was cleared to be used as a designated hitter in the minors this season, got his first reps as a DH in a B game against the Padres in Peoria, going 0-for-2 with a walk. “It was huge,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “We need to get him into the rhythm of things and ready for the season.’’
Eloy Jimenez, the team’s No. 1 prospect who hasn’t played since last Friday, did not travel with the team, and it remains unclear when he’ll play because of what Renteria described as minor soreness on the top of his left knee. “He’s improving, but we want to make sure when we put him on the field that he’s able to keep working and play,’’ Renteria said.
Clean it up
Reynaldo Lopez dropped a throw from first baseman Casey Gillaspie, second baseman Jose Rondon botched a rundown play and left fielder Nicky Delmonico and center fielder Leury Garcia miscommunicated and let a fly ball drop between them. Delmonico (2-for-4, double, two RBI), Garcia (2-for-3, triple) and Rondon (triple, two RBI) fared better at the plate.
Dodgers at Sox, Glendale, Clayton Kershaw vs. Miguel Gonzalez, 2:05 p.m. Friday.
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