White Sox’ Dylan Cease more than pleased with first outing of spring

The right-hander struck out three and walked none in two innings against the Reds.

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Dylan Cease pitches on the back fields at Camelback Ranch. On Sunday, he threw two scoreless innings in his first spring outing of 2020. (For Sun-Times/John Antonoff)

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — As first outings go, White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease couldn’t have asked for much better.

The highly regarded Cease, who struggled for consistency while posting a 5.79 ERA in 14 starts as a rookie, came to camp with a new emphasis on ‘‘not getting too rotational on my front side’’ to prevent his fastball from cutting too much.

The results have been good on the back fields at Camelback Ranch, and they were equally pleasing to Cease in the Sox’ Cactus League opener Sunday against the Reds.

Cease touched 99 mph multiple times, struck out three and walked none in his scoreless two-inning start. He hit Jesse Winker with a pitch on the hand (Winker left the game but is OK) and allowed some solid contact, but considering his struggles — especially in the early innings — last season, there was nothing not to be happy about.

‘‘I had better feel today than I did at any point last season,’’ Cease said. ‘‘As long as I can keep carrying that on, I’ll be happy.’’

Cease said he liked the way he executed his curve, slider and changeup.

‘‘Lot of fastballs for strikes, for the most part off-speed [pitches] for strikes, good shape on pitches, good changeups,’’ he said. ‘‘It was good.’’

When it was suggested he already had reached his top velocity, Cease replied, ‘‘We don’t know that’s top velo.’’

It’s early, but Cease oozing confidence is a good thing for the Sox.

‘‘My arm feels great, my body feels great,’’ Cease said. ‘‘It was coming out good. I really couldn’t be happier with that outing.’’

Colome wants more in 2020

Right-hander Alex Colome was pretty good in his first season as the Sox’ closer. He wants to be better.

Colome had 30 saves and posted a 2.80 ERA in 62 games in 2019 but is aiming to improve in 2020.

‘‘It was good, not bad,’’ Colome said Saturday. ‘‘They gave me a lot of opportunities, and I tried to do my best. But this year I can be better, the bullpen can be better, the team can be better.’’

Colome was better in the first half (2.02 ERA, .482 OPS against) than in the second (3.91 ERA, .769 OPS against) last season. Overall, however, he was reliable in save situations, converting 30 of 33 for a .909 percentage that ranked second in the American League and fifth in Sox history.

‘‘I’m preparing my mind to do better,’’ Colome said. ‘‘Better command, try to get more outs [in key situations].’’

Gonzalez progressing

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez threw off flat ground, spinning come curveballs and letting go of some changeups, and threw long toss as he approaches his first scheduled bullpen session Thursday.

‘‘All in all, it’s big-time progress to where I started to where I am now,’’ said Gonzalez, 34, who has been working to get his slightly sore left shoulder ready for the season. ‘‘There’s nothing going to keep me from being ready for Opening Day. I’ve just got to keep working hard.’’

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