Lance Lynn to start White Sox’ Cactus League opener

Lynn is ahead of the other starters because of preparations for the World Baseball Classic. Kendall Graveman, a teammate of Lynn’s on Team USA, and Jose Ruiz, pitching for Venezuela, are also on the docket for Saturday.

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White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn.

White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn gets his work in at spring training.

John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

GLENDALE, Ariz. — White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said right-hander Lance Lynn will start the team’s Cactus League opener against the Padres on Saturday, with most of the team’s regulars playing behind him at Camelback Ranch.

Lynn is ahead of the other starters because of preparations for the World Baseball Classic. Kendall Graveman, a teammate of Lynn’s on Team USA, and Jose Ruiz, pitching for Venezuela, are also on the docket for Saturday.

Lynn probably will pitch two or three innings, Grifol said.

“He’s been Lance,” Grifol said. “He’s been good. He’s pounding the strike zone. He knows his body really well. And he knows what he needs to do to be ready for our first series [in Houston].”

It’s too soon to name an Opening Day starter, Grifol said. Lynn, the veteran, is the staff leader, but “we have the guy who came in second to the Cy Young last year [Dylan Cease] as an option, too. I’m really happy with our starters. We’ve got five really good quality starters that I feel are horses that can beat anybody at any time. We’ll wait and see how that plays out.”

One of those is Mike Clevinger, who is under investigation by Major League Baseball for allegations of domestic abuse. Clevinger, who pitched live batting practice, was the first name Grifol mentioned, unsolicited, after Thursday’s workouts.

“Clevinger looked really good,” Grifol said. “I was really pleased with how he threw the ball. [Lucas] Giolito was excellent. A really good curveball. Mixed four pitches. Changeup was good. Felt strong.”

Aside from left fielder Andrew Benintendi and second baseman Elvis Andrus, Grifol said the other regulars can expect to play Saturday.

Lineup construction

Grifol has “kind of an idea” about batting-order possibilities for 2023. But he’s not tipping his hand in February.

“I spent a lot of time researching where to put who to best give us the value and production we need to maximize our [strengths],” he said. “And when you put the names down on paper, you realize this lineup is pretty deep. And then when you add Andrus to the lineup, it gets even deeper. It’s a really good problem to have. We have versatile guys that can hit at a lot of different places in the order.”

Prospect of the week

Righty Edgar Navarro received another mention from Grifol, who is impressed with the 25-year-old prospect who pitched at three levels last season. At Double-A Birmingham, Navarro struck out 54 and walked 36 in 43„ innings.

“He’s a kid that’s impressed since Day 1,” Grifol said. “Power sinker. His sinker is really an elite pitch. It does something different every time he throws it. Really an aggressive kid. Seems like he’s having a really good time out there, and he’s got really good stuff.”

This and that

Lefty Garrett Crochet, who had Tommy John surgery at the end of spring training last year, said he remains on track to join the team in mid-May. Crochet is throwing bullpen sessions but won’t see his first game action until extended spring training.

Liam Hendriks threw long toss on the stadium outfield again Thursday, which has become an almost daily occurrence for the closer who is receiving chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

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