GLENDALE, Ariz. — Opening Day is around the corner and White Sox players feel as if they’re in a good place.
At least that’s the assessment of staff ace Chris Sale, who watched his offense produce yet again on Tuesday afternoon in a 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers at Camelback Ranch.
Todd Frazier and Adam Eaton each homered and Sale struck out five in his final spring start as the club improved to 15-12-1. The win clinched the White Sox their first winning Cactus League record since 2004.
“We’re rolling,” Sale said. “We’ve been playing well. Today was a great indication. You’ve got Eaton, his first two at-bats and going up there in his third at-bat and drawing a walk. (Alex) Avila, with a really long at-bat, getting a knock in the end. Frazier doing what he does is fun. It’s things like that that get us closer together and get us as a unit to move forward and keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
The offense has been a pleasant surprise for the White Sox this spring. They hoped it would improve with a number of offseason additions and it has. While in reality spring success has no bearing upon the regular season, it can be an indicator.
Last spring, the White Sox produced only 143 runs in the spring, an average of 4.61 per contest. They homered 22 times.
The 2015 club only homered 136 times — their fewest since 1992 — and scored three runs or fewer in 82 games.
This spring, the White Sox have homered 48 times and have averaged 5.75 runs per contest.
Behind an Opening Day-esque lineup — “That’s going to be the guys,” manager Robin Ventura said — the White Sox scored in a variety of ways. Frazier blasted his second homer in as many games, a two-run shot in the first. Avila then worked a long at-bat before his two-out single drove in two runs to put the White Sox ahead 4-0. Jimmy Rollins also singled in a run after Eaton drew a two-out walk. And three innings later, the leadoff man blasted his second homer of the spring.
“We’ve been putting up runs early and often,” Sale said. “Guys are clicking. It’s fun to watch. I don’t mind sitting in the dugout for 5-10 extra minutes.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
Sale didn’t keep his offense out of the dugout for long with a nice crisp effort to end the spring. The left-hander retired the first five batters he faced. He struck out a pair in the fourth and limited Texas to four hits in his first four frames. Sale’s lone mistake resulted in a Hanser Alberto solo homer to start the fifth inning.
But he only allowed a run and six hits in 5 1/3 innings and walked none.
“He looked really good,” Avila said. “Missed the spot on one pitch and that was really it for the day. Other than that, worked his changeup pretty well. Fastballs in and out. Probably wasn’t as consistent on the opposite side of the plate, but as the game went on he got better there. His slider looked good.