Why Dallas Keuchel's first Spring Training with the White Sox was ‘a huge sign'


GLENDALE, Ariz. — If you’re predicting what players are due for a big (or better) season in 2020, keep an eye on Dallas Keuchel.

In his Cactus League debut on Tuesday against the San Diego Padres, Keuchel gave up one run on six hits over four innings.

The numbers might not jump off the page, but there’s more to Keuchel’s outing than what you see in the box score.

After not re-signing with the Atlanta Braves until June last year, Keuchel believes he’s in a different place this season. Tuesday’s start confirmed that.

“I’ve been saying all spring that I feel ahead of schedule physically and mentally, so that’s just a huge sign for me, especially the last couple years, not having spring training last year, getting my body healthy from the previous two seasons, missing time through various injuries,” said Keuchel, who went 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 112.2 innings with the Braves.

Manager Rick Renteria said the hope was for Keuchel to go three innings on Tuesday. Instead, he ended up going four, throwing 50 pitches, 34 for strikes.

“I thought it went pretty well," Keuchel said. "It was nice to get up and down four times, really kind of tax myself there for 50-some pitches. It beats throwing a backfield game, that’s for sure.”

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A ground ball pitcher who allows hitters to make contact, Keuchel relies on the infield defense behind him. The Padres poked several hits through the White Sox infield, but if this were the regular season, Keuchel said the defense would have been better positioned to gobble them up.

“The infield defense was great. It’s still spring training for some of the defensive alignments, coaching wise and analytical people. I’m sure we’ll have a sit-down talk with a couple guys,” Keuchel said. “I was happy to see the ball on the ground. I was trying to get early contact. A few at-bats, I went a lot longer than I would have liked to.”

Of the 12 batters Keuchel retired, nine of them were out on groundouts. That’s trademark Keuchel.

As he put it: “I’ll take today.”

And a good sign for starts to come.

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