White Sox’ front-line hitters look ready; Vince Velasquez strikes out 5 in loss to Cubs

Eloy Jimenez hit his third homer, and Luis Robert went 3-for-3 with a two-run double.

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White Sox righty Vince Velasquez pitches against the Cubs Monday in Mesa, Ariz. (For the Sun-Times/John Antonoff)

Cubs 15, Sox 9

Velasquez misses bats

Right-hander Vince Velasquez struck out five, walked two and was charged with two runs and two hits over 2⅓ innings Monday. He said his role hasn’t been communicated to him, but it looks like fifth starter. ”I’m proud of the progress I’ve made all spring,” said Velasquez, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal March 14. “This is probably just the beginning of what I’m capable of doing.”

Sluggers connect

Luis Robert (.353) had three hits, including a two-run double, raising his Cactus League-leading RBI total to 12, Tim Anderson (.429) had two hits, including a double, and Cubs killer Eloy Jimenez ripped a tracer of a home run to left field against David Robertson. Jimenez (.324) has three homers this spring. Right fielder AJ Pollock was scratched because of a head cold, and his replacement, Andrew Vaughn (.435), had three singles. Danny Mendick (.125) also homered.

Two optioned

Infielder Romy Gonzalez and left-hander Anderson Severino were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Gonzalez, who hit two homers this spring, was competing with Mendick for a utility spot, and Severino and Bennett Sousa were considered the top relievers competing for a No. 2 lefty role behind Aaron Bummer. Sousa got one out and gave up four hits, including a homer to former Sox infielder Nick Madrigal. He struck out two.

New catcher incoming

Catcher Reese McGuire, acquired from the Blue Jays on Sunday in a trade for Zack Collins, is scheduled to make his first and only start of the spring.

On deck

Sox at Padres, Peoria, 2:05 p.m., Michael Kopech vs. Blake Snell. Liam Hendriks, Bummer and Kyle Crick, who hasn’t allowed a run in six relief appearances and figures to make the roster, also are scheduled to pitch. Crick has allowed one hit. Kopech, named as the third starter in the rotation, is scheduled for three innings.

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