Maybe it’s time for Dallas Keuchel to relax ‘perfectionist’ mindset

“I have to be on the outer or inner third [of the plate] instead of trying to dot a gnat’s ass on the black,” Keuchel said.

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Dallas Keuchel starts the White Sox’ series finale against the Red Sox Sunday.

Dallas Keuchel of the White Sox pitches against the Los Angeles Angels at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 01, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Getty Images)

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BOSTON — Dallas Keuchel needs to pitch better Sunday, and he knows it.

Maybe wearing pink cleats on Mother’s Day will change his luck.

“I’ve pitched in pink cleats before and, knock on wood, done well,” Keuchel said Saturday. “I’d like to keep that trend going for my mom and the moms out there.”

Commanding his two-seam fastball better would go a long way. Trying not to nibble on the corners too much might help.

“Some umpires and hitters have dared me to throw strikes, so instead of nit-picking, I have to be on the outer or inner third [of the plate] instead of trying to dot a gnat’s ass on the black,” said Keuchel, who will start Sunday against the Red Sox. “But I’ve been a perfectionist my whole life. I don’t know if I can get it out of my head.”

A top-five finisher in Cy Young voting his first season with the Sox in 2020, Keuchel has fallen on tough times after posting a 5.23 ERA last season and 8.40 ERA in four starts this season. Eleven walks in 15 innings have been problematic.

“I really feel like I’m close,” Keuchel said. “The walks are the most frustrating part. But dissecting things, there were a lot of quality pitches within those walks. If I can clean up one or two pitches here and there, we’re looking at some 1-2 counts instead of 2-1 and 3-2 counts.

“There has been a lot of weak contact, so there is a lot of things to build on outside the Cleveland game [10 runs, 10 hits, one walk in one inning April 20].”

Cueto on Wednesday?

Michael Kopech starts Monday and Lucas Giolito on Tuesday against the Guardians. Vince Velasquez could go on four days of rest Wednesday, but the Sox list it as TBD, leaving the door open for veteran Johnny Cueto to debut.

“We’re going to have to start stretching, have to do something to get through this period of [18 games in 17 days] with pitchers,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said.

“Keep the options open, but it’s wait and see. It’s complicated. It’s a challenge, and we just work our way through it.”

Jordanesque

Shortstop Tim Anderson has no bigger fan than La Russa, who raved about Anderson’s speed and baserunning Friday. On Saturday, he talked about Anderson’s desire to win.

“I say this very carefully ... but in the highest complimentary way, he has a Michael Jordan kind of desire,” La Russa said. “It’s not about leading the league in hitting, it’s getting into October, winning a championship. Desire and talent and energy level.”

Keeping Grandal fresh

Yasmani Grandal will catch a second straight day Sunday, giving him 14 games behind the plate compared to 13 for Reese McGuire. Grandal has DH’d 10 times. It’s about keeping Grandal, who had knee surgery last season, as fresh as possible.

“The whole idea is, he has value from the offensive and defensive side,” La Russa said. “He goes at it hard on the defensive side, and it’s going to take away from how often you can play. So, especially in the first half of the season, the stronger and healthier he can stay, the benefits to our club are [essential]. I’m sure he appreciates that.”

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