SURPRISE, Ariz. — With each Cactus League outing, 21-year-old right-hander Michael Kopech feels a little more confident, looks a bit more comfortable and seems to take a small step closer to the major leagues.
In his second spring outing Saturday, Kopech allowed an unearned run, struck out three and walked one in 2 1/3 innings against the Royals. Kopech hit 99 mph on the scoreboard gun and stranded runners at third with one out in each of his first two innings.
He wasn’t pinpoint with his location on arm-side fastballs, but he said: ‘‘Overall, I felt like I threw the ball pretty well. Probably should have thrown a few more changeups in there, but the slider was a good pitch today, and I didn’t want to stray away from that too much.’’
Kopech knows he’ll start the season at Class AAA Charlotte, barring an unforeseen development. He needs to polish his changeup and continue to work on commanding his fastball. The Sox have no reason not to let him pitch at least part of the season at Charlotte, where he made three starts in 2017.
‘‘It’s good,’’ Kopech said of the changeup. ‘‘I’m feeling pretty comfortable with it. Even the ones I did throw today were some pretty good ones. My bullpens have been great. It’s definitely coming along. It’s a pitch that is going to continue to take practice. I feel like it’ll be there sooner rather than later.’’
In two outings spanning 4„ innings, Kopech hasn’t allowed an earned run. He has five strikeouts and one walk. His only walk came on a 3-2 slider he thought the Royals’ Bubba Starling went around on. He then struck out Drew Butera with a 98 mph fastball, leaving a runner at third.
Soria shakes off shelling
Veteran right-hander Joakim Soria seemed to be taking his rough first outing of the spring in stride. He faced five Dodgers on Friday and gave up five hits, including two doubles and a home run.
‘‘Yeah, location and some mechanics stuff, too,’’ said Soria, who was charged with four runs. ‘‘I’ll go over it with [pitching coach Don Cooper], and I’ll get ready for the next outing and just try to execute better pitches low in the zone.’’
Most of the hard contact came against Soria’s offspeed pitches. He did get together with Cooper, who talked to him about standing taller and getting over the ball better.
‘‘Take a look at video and know that you’re feeling good, your arm feels good,’’ Soria said. ‘‘Just get ready for the next outing.’’
Infante to test shoulder
Right-hander Gregory Infante, who has been battling shoulder inflammation, is on the mend and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday or Monday.
‘‘He doesn’t feel anything now, which is great,’’ manager Rick Renteria said.
Infante appeared in 52 games last season, posting a 3.13 ERA.
‘‘If we can get him to go full tilt and get him some work on the side and maybe on the back fields to see where he’s at, there’s no reason to believe he can’t work himself back,’’ Renteria said.
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WHITE SOX 9, ROYALS 5
Left fielder Luis Basabe, who had been heckled for a couple of innings by Royals fans sitting above the Kansas City bullpen, lined an opposite-field home run in their direction in the eighth inning Saturday.
Bruce Rondon struck out all three batters he faced in the sixth. Rob Scahill struck out three in 1„ scoreless innings and has been effective thus far. And prospect Jordan Stephens earned a three-inning save, striking out two and allowing one baserunner.
Clean it up
Center fielder Ryan Cordell dropped a fly ball, right fielder Daniel Palka misplayed a ball for another error and center fielder Luis Robert collided with right fielder Jacob May, who made a catch nonetheless. In the infield, second baseman Jose Rondon misplayed a pop fly for the third Sox error. On the bases, prospect Micker Adolfo got picked off second.
Top prospect Eloy Jimenez, who is taking anti-inflammatory medication for tendinitis in his left knee, said he felt ‘‘much better’’ and probably would be on the field next week.
Jimenez said he’s not sure what caused the soreness to develop, but he’s not concerned and doesn’t think it’s serious.
‘‘I never felt something like this before,’’ he said through an interpreter. My concern is I want to be playing right now. I’m just losing playing time. I would say there’s more disappointment than frustration. I want to be on the field.’’
Jimenez wasn’t going to make the major-league team anyway, but he was looking forward to showing what he could do in his first big-league camp.
Padres at White Sox, Glendale, 2:05 p.m., Joey Lucchesi vs. Carson Fulmer, whitesox.com.