SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – After an offseason and a spring training of anticipation, the regular season is now just 48 hours away for the group.
Yes, the Eloy Jimenez injury, which will still keep him out 5-6 months after he he underwent surgery on his shoulder on Tuesday, did put a damper on the work in Arizona. But at the same time, there was still plenty of reasons for the group to be optimistic as they break camp to head to Anaheim for Thursday’s season opener.
One of those players who provided more optimism made his last spring training start a memorable one on Tuesday.
Dylan Cease finished up a strong spring training against the Rockies with a gem at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. In 5 1/3 innings he struck out 11 batters without a walk, allowing six hits and a run in a 2-1 Colorado win.
“That’s as much as I could ask for right there,” said Cease of his final tune-up before the start of the regular season. “I couldn’t be more happy to end on a high note like that. I feel like I’m definitely ready to go.”
Cease could have said that even if he had a more modest performance in the finale after three strong performances before that. Add in the outing on Tuesday, and the pitcher finished the spring allowing just two earned runs in 17 innings, good for an ERA of 1.06, while striking out 22 batters compared to just seven walks.
It helped to earn Cease the fourth spot as the White Sox start their season on Thursday, with his first start expected to be Sunday night against the Angels in Anaheim. It’s a boost to the pitcher who has had some growing pains after making his debut midway through the 2019 season.
He’s 9-11 with an even five ERA in 26 career starts with 125 strikeouts compared to 69 walks, but Cease hopes this spring will help boost him to a permanent rotation spot in 2021.
“At the end of the day, I try not to get to high and too low, but having more outings like this as opposed to poor outings is definitely a confidence booster,” said Cease. “I feel truly ready to go.”
The performance he had on Tuesday would show that to be true.