Game 2 and other news

TUCSON, Ariz. It was only three innings of work, but projected No. 4 starter Jose Contreras continued to show that his dismal 10-17 record (5.57 ERA) from last season is behind him. The right-hander held Colorado to one unearned run on just one hit, while picking up a strikeout in the 12-3 Sox win.

This year, I prepared hard physically and mentally and I feel good about it, Contreras said afterward. [Last season] was the worst year of my career.

Contreras had to deal with going through a divorce last year, which played a factor in his struggles.

Alexei Ramirez showed the Sox early on in camp he could catch the ball, but on Thursday he showed he could hit. The Cuban rookie, who is a candidate for the starting job at second base, went 4-for-5 against the Rockies, scoring three times and picking up an RBI. I feel like the way I did in Cuba, Ramirez said afterward. The confidence Ozzie Guillen gave me, he said just go out there and have fun and thats what Im going to do.

But Guillen is still not sure what the long-term plans are for Ramirez.

“Right now we have to work with him at second base if he’s going to make it, Guillen said. He’s pretty rough at second base. He hasn’t played there that much. I’m going to talk to [general manager] Kenny [Williams] and see what we think and what we’re going to do with this kid. I think he’s got a lot of talent. I’m not sure if he’s going to end at shortstop or second base or play everywhere, but the first game he showed he’s good and showed a lot of speed. He seems like he knows what he’s doing.

–More good news for the Sox on the injury front, with Jerry Owens [sore groin] ready to make his Cactus League debut on Friday, and reliever Matt Thornton [sore elbow] throwing live batting practice on Thursday morning. If Thornton has no setbacks he could be ready for games by next Monday.

–Appearing on ESPN 1000s Waddle and Silvy Show on Thursday, former Sox hurler Jon Garland decided it was time for him to play prognosticator.

Asked if he would be surprised if the Sox won the American League Central, Garland replied, I would be. Only because of how well Cleveland played last year, they have that young team. And then the off-season moves that Detroit made. It’s kind of hard to look past them with what they did. But it always goes back to who can stay the healthiest. I think you can have the greatest team in the world, if they’re not healthy they’re not going to perform on the field.”

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