White Sox’ Mike Clevinger gives up two homers vs. Cubs

Clevinger fine-tuning tweaks as first start against Astros inches closer

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Mike Clevinger pitches against the Cubs. (AP)

White Sox starting pitcher Mike Clevinger throws during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Chicago Cubs in Glendale, Ariz., Friday, March 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — With two more Cactus League starts to go, right-hander Mike Clevinger says he’s focused more on fine-tuning in Arizona than on what’s likely to be his first official assignment in a White Sox uniform: facing the defending World Series champion Astros in the opening series in Houston.

“Oh, I’m pretty locked in day-to-day,” Clevinger said after allowing three runs over 3 ‰ innings against the Cubs on Friday at Camelback Ranch. “I know it’s going to be a good environment there, for sure. I’m just excited to get out of here with these guys. We’ve got a good thing going — a good culture going on right now. Excited to see how it plays out.”

Clevinger still has work to do. In his second spring start, he was one out away from a scoreless third when he served up a two-run homer on a changeup to Yan Gomes on an 0-2 count. In the fourth, Edwin Rios homered on a back-door slider that found too much of the plate.

Clevinger threw 65 pitches, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out three. He has moved to the right of the rubber and has made slight alterations, looking to find the same arm slot and release point that worked for him in 2019 and 2020.

“You can tell just on the slider, I wasn’t getting the same kind of swings and the swings in the dirt constantly like I used to get,” he said.

Clevinger has allowed three homers in two games — two of them to former catchers of his. Austin Nola of the Padres also took him deep. He also served one up in a B game against the Dodgers.


First baseman Andrew Vaughn has not played since Sunday because of unspecified soreness, Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. He was 0-for-2 against the Angels in his last game, as the designated hitter, lowering his spring average to .326.

Vaughn showed no visible signs of discomfort in the clubhouse Friday, when the Sox and Cubs played to a 4-4 tie. Grifol said he is “probably day-to-day.”

“He’s a little sore, but I haven’t gotten the full report on him,” Grifol said. “We’re just giving him a couple of days, just to settle in. And then I’ll get the word from [trainer] James [Kruk] and I’ll address that either [Saturday] morning or whenever we have more information.”

Diekman adding new pitch

After posting a 6.52 ERA in 26 appearances for the Sox after being traded from the Red Sox last Aug. 1, left-hander Jake Diekman is working on mechanical tweaks and a new pitch — a cutter — which he said he has thrown about 50% of the time in his first five Cactus League appearances.

“Ten years of basically two pitches, and it’s probably time to add another pitch,” said Diekman, who’s entering his 12th season.

If Aaron Bummer isn’t on the Opening Day roster, Diekman would be the top lefty in the bullpen. Bummer started camp behind because of an issue in his lat/shoulder area. Diekman is slated to pitch Saturday against the Dodgers.

Sox 4, Cubs 4

Gonzalez (.091) hit his first homer of the spring, and outfielder Adam Haseley and infielder Erik Gonzalez each went 3-for-3.

• Right-hander Gregory Santos, who hasn’t allowed a run in five relief appearances, struck out all four Cubs batters he faced.

Nancy Faust, who lives in the Phoenix area, entertained on the organ. She was scheduled to play here March 11, 2020, but COVID-19 halted spring training and she hadn’t been back since. She was the Sox’ organist from 1970 to 2010 and also played at Bulls games from 1975 to ’84 and Blackhawks games from 1984 to ’89.

On deck: Dodgers at Sox, 3:05 p.m. Saturday, Glendale, whitesox.com, 1000-AM. Michael Grove vs. Michael Kopech.

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