Dallas Keuchel eyes bounce-back season, and feeling better helps

“The body just didn’t hold up,” Keuchel said of his rough 2021 season in which he struggled to a 5.28 ERA.

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“First of all, I feel great,’’ White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel said. “Full health is nice.”

“First of all, I feel great,’’ White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel said. “Full health is nice.”

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — White Sox left-hander Dallas Keuchel wasn’t 100% physically last season. He is better this spring.

‘‘First of all, I feel great,’’ said Keuchel, who talked with the media Monday for the first time at camp. ‘‘Full health is nice.’’

A good, healthy Keuchel would be a nice thing for a starting rotation that flourished in 2021 despite Keuchel’s bad season. After posting a 1.99 ERA in the abbreviated 2020 season, he had a 5.28 ERA last season and didn’t make the American League Division Series roster, although manager Tony La Russa said he would have in a seven-game series.

‘‘When I wasn’t called upon in the playoffs, that really bothered me,’’ Keuchel said. ‘‘I signed over here for a reason, and that’s to make playoff starts and try to get this team to where we want to go.’’

But Keuchel, 34, understood the decision.

‘‘The body just didn’t hold up, so it was just kind of fighting within myself,’’ he said. ‘‘And then if you don’t pitch well, you usually don’t have a big leash, like I usually do.’’

Bothered primarily by back issues that affected his mobility and led to foot, ankle and hamstring issues, Keuchel is a soft-tosser who relies on location, changing speeds and getting grounders with a good sinker. His fastball command eluded him, and the season went from bad to worse with a 6.82 ERA in the second half

Keuchel is entering the last year of a three-year, $55 million contract and hopes to contribute significantly to a pennant contender.

‘‘Before I came over, [general manger] Rick Hahn promised, ‘Hey, we’re not done, and this is our window,’ and that was nice to hear,’’ Keuchel said. ‘‘But seeing it backed up is even better. On paper, this has to be the best bullpen I’ve ever been with. It makes you want to come to the park and play and be there for the guys . . . see if we can’t make that next jump.’’

Keuchel said it’s important how he, Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech are lined up in the rotation. He told pitching coach Ethan Katz he’d be useful as an innings-eater if he follows Kopech, whose innings will be monitored.

‘‘Dallas’ body feels great, so everything is trending in the right direction for him just from being able to have a normal offseason,’’ Katz said.

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