GLENDALE, Ariz. — Second baseman Josh Harrison was eager to get his first game reps alongside shortstop Tim Anderson on Saturday. Backfield work has been good for getting to know Anderson, but game action has the most value, Harrison said.
“Today is the first crack at that,” he said before the game. “It’s go-time. Before we know it, the season will be upon us. It’s exciting to go out and compete today. It’s just a start.”
The abbreviated spring training puts an emphasis on learning each other’s arm angles and preferences for where they like the ball -delivered on double plays.
“It’s more getting a feel for each other, how we feed and move around the bag,” Harrison said.
Harrison, signed as a free agent during the first week of camp, turned a routine 6-4-3 double play with Anderson in the game. He should expect to be the primary second baseman, and he also has to get to know third baseman Yoan Moncada’s and Jose Abreu’s tendencies in the field.
“We have four guys that are aggressive,” he said. “It’s a good problem because guys want the ball and want to make the play.”
Engel not pushing it
Outfielder Adam Engel had a torn labrum repaired on his left shoulder immediately after last season. He is ramping up slowly but will be ready for Opening Day, he said.
“I’m probably full-go now, just not pushing it yet,” said Engel, who had five anchor -sutures secured during the procedure. “I could play today. It’s a matter of making sure we’re smart about it.”
Engel played through shoulder discomfort last season and went on the injured list twice with hamstring strains.
Limits on starters
Pitching coach Ethan Katz doesn’t see his starters going more than five innings in their first starts because of the 3½-week spring training and shortened ramp-up time. Not all cases are the same, though. Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn and Dallas Keuchel are slightly ahead of Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease because Kopech had COVID in late February and Cease didn’t find a place to throw live batting practice during the lockout.
“You don’t want to rush them into games, but you also have a small window of games to kind of make sure they’re ready for the season,” Katz said. “It’s kind of a fine balance. Bullpens [side sessions] are more important than ever because I might get the chance to work with a guy one time before he’s in a game. It’s challenging, but we’ll get it done.”
Vince Velasquez, who will start against the Rockies on Sunday and throw two innings, and Reynaldo Lopez also are building up to starters’ workloads.
“They are very important pieces to the puzzle,” Katz said. “Especially when you’re looking at Michael, who off the year that he had we really have to be smart with his innings. He had a little bit of time down before he got here, and we have to make sure that we don’t push him too hard. He might be a couple of innings behind others.”
Velasquez ‘big part’ of Sox plans
Velasquez, looking to return to the path of success he enjoyed his first couple of seasons with the Astros and Phillies, “is going to be a big part of what we do,” Katz said.
“The stuff, the ability has always been there from Day 1,” Katz said. “Now it’s just trying to utilize his weapons properly and getting him to understand what we envision, how we can be successful over and over again.”
‘It’s a new year’ for Kimbrel
Craig Kimbrel is a White Sox until he’s not, and Katz believes the right-hander with 372 career saves will get back on the right track after a rough second half with the Sox in 2021.
“It’s a new year, and we’re looking forward to having him on the team,” Katz said.
“Craig’s career speaks for itself. I’m thrilled to have Craig in camp. Being here, he’s going to provide a lot for us this year. We talked a little bit about some of the stuff we had seen in the past and where we’re at now.”
Kimbrel has known since the fall that he would be a trade chip, but he’s still here.
“He’s in a really good spot right now and he’s going to throw here soon to hitters and kind of get the ball rolling,” Katz said.
Kimbrel’s first live batting practice is Sunday.