March 3, 2013; Peoria, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy (44) throws against the San Diego Padres in the first inning during a spring training game at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Early spring training White Sox observations

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At the spring training level, all we can do is observe. We can’t make conclusions, or even come close, and Jake Fox hitting ten spring training home runs in 2011 is usually my go-to example for why not.

With that reminder in place, on to what we’ve seen…

Peavy gets shelled

Last year, Jake Peavy got knocked around in his first outing, and followed it up by declaring that he wasn’t throwing anything beyond fastballs, and trying to locate. On Sunday, Jake Peavy got knocked around  in his first outing (three runs in three innings of work), and followed it up by declaring that he wasn’t throwing anything beyond fastballs, and trying to locate. This time, there was even praise for the velocity.

Peavy’s fastball sat between 89-93 mph throughout his three innings, according to one scout who noted the right-hander’s stuff was “much better than results.” One White Sox coach even counted a few 94-mph fastballs, a number Peavy didn’t come close to reaching in spring last season.

I had grown accustomed to, even charmed by, Peavy’s reliance on mixing in cutters, sinkers and two-seamers on 89-91-mph heat to thrive. But a handful of extra miles could certainly help, even if it’s just every now and then.

Dayan’s leg kick

The leg kick that Jeff Manto and Harold Baines devised for Viciedo for the purpose of keeping him restrained and balanced at the plate has been more subtle than an offseason of build up would suggest. It’s also in development and inconsistent in the degree to which it appears, but the issues covering off-speed stuff on the outer half, and frequent self-jamming that made Viciedo spring last year such a remarkable train wreck (18 strikeouts in 67 plate appearances) have been absent (not one strikeout yet).

Viciedo’s one home run was by all reports one of the most massive shots of spring training, so he’s shown some ability to tap into his power while he’s been tinkering

Addison Reed‘s slider

Reed losing most of his ability to get anyone to chase at his slider last summer was the primary difference between the white-knuckle youngster who held on to the closer job and the stalwart prospect who looked like he actually deserved the role in 2011.

It’s no surprise working it back in is a focus of spring training for him, and Reed threw it about a third of the time in his one inning of flawless work on Sunday. There weren’t any flashes of devastation, but Reed grabbed a whiff with it by throwing a decent one low-and-away to a right-hander (pretty much the reason for anyone to throw a slider) and didn’t look hopeless with any of his breakers, which could easily have been helped by the decreased tension and stakes of his normal outing. A pitch is easier to waste when it doesn’t put you behind in the count to the go-ahead run at the plate.

Gillaspie making it academic

Due to the relative irrelevance of the backup third basemen slot and Conor Gillaspie having no minor league options left, the onus was on Brent Morel to thoroughly outplay his counterpart to the degree of making it worth it to the Sox to waste their rights to their recent trade acquisition.

Instead, Gillaspie has done everything possible to end the battle early, clubbing three extra-base hits in limited time–two of which were gorgeous line shots out of the park. Brent Morel has kept things interesting by playing all over the diamond, but hasn’t done much to insinuate he’d be better at being a third basemen.

Beckham crouch

Good on you if you can keep a firm hold on the fruits of Gordon Beckham‘s most recent batting stance tweak. For what it’s worth, he’s modified the Carlos Quentin-like crouch from last season into an even deeper, more hunched knee-bend. Initial results are inconclusive.

Toolsy outfielders

We know that Jared Mitchell strikes out a lot, and can’t be discussed as a future starter until that’s sorted out, but his tools have been on display more than ever so far. He’s flashed his speed on a triple and a few catches on short liners that he rushed in on, and might have had one more three-bagger on a blooper that bounced under the dive of a center fielder, but decided not to risk it. Just as impressive was Mitchell’s one home run, an opposite field shot that cleared the left field fence with plenty of room for comfort. That’s some strength at work.

Keenyn Walker has shown plenty of the speed that’s been tagged as the best in the farm system on the basepaths, but has also struck out seven times in 15 plate appearances. The two he suffered on Sunday were on a pair of close takes on the corners rather than chasing, suggesting that the blame can be assigned to a long swing rather than a poor approach. I am not sure that makes it better.

Nestor-related sadness

Molina has four scoreless innings to his name, but they have been filled with hard lineouts and rippling contact. He lacks a strikeout to his name this spring because his high-80’s heat isn’t putting anyone off-balance

John Danks debut

Danks is not getting held out any longer than the rest of the normal starters, and will be putting his surgically repaired shoulder to the test on Monday afternoon at 2pm.

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