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As trade speculation resurfaces, White Sox starter Dylan Cease has his sharpest outing this spring

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Chicago White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease said he received a call from general manager Chris Getz Tuesday morning.

“(He) kind of gave me a heads up, just said there were rumors going around,” Cease said.

As a fresh round of trade speculation popped up, the right-hander went to work Tuesday night for the Sox against the Cincinnati Reds.

He looked his sharpest of the spring. And that’s saying something.

Cease struck out eight in 3 1/3 innings in the 14-1 victory at Goodyear Ballpark.

He allowed one run on two hits and walked one batter in the 63-pitch outing. He has a 2.16 ERA in three spring starts, with 14 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings.

Cease was a popular player in trade talks all offseason. That buzz seemed to tail off shortly after spring training began. But as the season draws closer, reports of talks have resurfaced.

It never crossed his mind that he wouldn’t start Tuesday.

“It just is not something that’s really that big of a deal,” Cease said. “I mean, it’s out of my control. Really, I just want to perform. Either way, I mean, I don’t view it as a negative.”

Before the game, manager Pedro Grifol said he doesn’t worry about things like trade speculation.

“I don’t think Cease worries about it too much, either,” Grifol said. “He’s the perfect guy for this just because he is where his feet are. I am where my feet are. This is where we are at right now, this is what we need to do to prepare ourselves for our opening day. We’re doing that.

“If there’s stuff happening around the league, No. 1, I really don’t know about it because I don’t read any of that stuff. But if there is stuff happening around the league, that’s not something we can control anyway.”

Grifol named Cease the team’s opening-day starter well before camp began. Asked if he still expected Cease to be on the hill for the March 28 game against the Detroit Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field, Grifol said, “I don’t know. I mean, how am I supposed to know that? I don’t know what’s going to happen out there. I don’t know where other teams are, what their urgency is.

“I have no idea. I leave that to our major-league scouts, our general manager, the front office. My focus is right here on this team, making sure we’re checking every box. The objectives I feel we need to check before opening day. I’m not focused on that.”

Cease’s focus was squarely on the Reds.

He displayed a 97 mph fastball while striking out two in the first inning.

Cease allowed a solo home run to Jonathan India in the second inning, which also included three strikeouts.

Cease struck out two more in the third inning. He finished his day by striking out the one batter he faced in the fourth, Matt McLain.

Overall, it was one of the most complete Cactus League games this spring for the Sox.

Center fielder Luis Robert Jr. homered twice. He had a two-run home run in the third and a solo home run that went over the center-field batter’s eye in the fifth. Third baseman Mike Moustakas had two hits, including a solo home run. Catcher Martín Maldonado (solo) and second baseman Lenyn Sosa (two-run) also homered.

But most of the focus was on Cease, who also displayed a pitch clocked in the 60s which he calls the “slow boy.”

“It’s frustrating because I throw it for a strike really well in my warmups but I haven’t quite got it in the game, but I’m going to keep mixing those in,” Cease said. “It’s a lot of fun to throw.”

Cease said Tuesday was what he would want “for any outing.”

Whether that continues with the Sox remains to be seen.

LaMond Pope , 2024-03-13 04:28:26

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