GLENDALE, Ariz. — Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez feels great physically this spring and looser because of a less-weight, more-reps weight-lifting routine in the offseason.
Mentally, he’s in a good place. And with improved vision after having surgery last May on both corneas, he feels like it’s all coming together for him.
That’s a good thing for the White Sox, who, seemingly set on their current collection of pitchers, need all the starting depth they can get to navigate a season in which everyone fears arm issues because of the late start to spring training caused by the lockout.
Depth will be a premium commodity. Lopez, 28, said he’s ready to roll with his plus fastball and four-pitch mix.
“[I’m feeling] much better than the last three years,” Lopez said. “Now I’m loose. I didn’t try to do too much in the weight room, and I didn’t get so tight. My velocity is 95, 97.”
Before surgery, Lopez said he struggled at times to see the catcher’s signs, which created an obvious distraction. That’s not a problem anymore. In his two-inning Cactus League start Thursday against the Giants, he made a play on a hot comebacker near his head he said he might not have made last season.
“That line drive I saw it like in slow motion,” said Lopez, who allowed a run, two hits and a walk.
In 2018, Lopez was the Sox’ best starter, posting a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts. After regressing to ERAs of 5.38 and 6.49 in 2019 and 2020, with demotions to Triple-A Charlotte, he bounced back to Chicago with a 3.43 ERA, 55 strikeouts and 13 walks in 57‰ innings.
The Sox likely will use him as a starter and in the bullpen, much like free-agent signee Vince Velasquez.
“They are very important pieces to the puzzle,” pitching coach Ethan Katz said.
“I don’t care if I have to pitch out of the bullpen or as a starter,” Lopez said. “I just want to stay healthy and do my job and help this team.”
Lopez said he couldn’t be in a better place right now.
“My eyes, my arm, my mind,” he said, “everything is coming together.”
Mendick wants to play nine
Danny Mendick has done some catching on the side ‘‘just to have that ability’’ as an emergency catcher, he said.
He hopes to check off all nine positions in his career and has two to go — catcher and first base.
“‘Everything I can to be well-rounded,’’ he said. “I pride myself on that.”
Mendick pitched in a blowout at Fenway Park last season, allowing a hit, hitting a batter and striking out Franchy Cordero.
GIANTS 9, SOX 6
Big ball, small ball
Eloy Jimenez homered and doubled, Jake Burger and Dwight Smith Jr. homered and Tim Anderson had two singles and a stolen base to highlight the offense. Look for Anderson to run more this season if his legs stay strong. He dealt with hamstring tightness and was 18-for-25 stealing last season.
“He had the red light a lot, but if he’s feeling good, watch his judgment when he’s got the green light, outstanding,” manager Tony La Russa said.
On the pitching side, left-hander Aaron Bummer chalked up his second scoreless appearance, striking out two in a perfect inning. Right-hander Jose Ruiz gave up homers to Thairo Estrada and Alex Blandino in a four-run inning.
Aybar claimed, Stiever on IL
Left-handed reliever Yoan Aybar was claimed off waivers from the Yankees, and right-hander Jonathan Stiever landed on the 60-day injured list.
Stiever, who had right lat surgery last August, made one start last season and spent most of the year at Triple-A Charlotte.
Aybar, 24, was claimed off waivers by the Yanks from the Rockies on March 20 after being designated for assignment to make room for Kris Bryant. He spent 2021 in the Rockies’ organization and had a 6.22 ERA with 53 K’s and two saves in 46⅓ innings. Almost all of it was at Double-A. Signed by the Red Sox as an outfielder, Aybar has upper-90s velocity but shaky command and likely needs work in the minors.
Cease is feeling it
Dylan Cease, who makes his first start Friday, said he was “all over the place” with his location early in camp, but the last week has been much improved.
“I like where my feel is at,” he said. “I’m commanding pretty well.”
Sox at Mariners, Peoria, 8:40 p.m., Cease vs. TBD.