Quintana comfortable, efficient in White Sox rotation

Lefty hopeful reshuffled lineup will generate consistent offense

Quintana comfortable, efficient in White Sox rotation

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Quintana would like to make one Opening Day start at some point over the course of his career. But the southpaw hurler, who threw two perfect innings during Wednesday's 6-4 victory over the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, certainly was not campaigning for that nod in lieu of Chris Sale's potential absence this season.

"I don't have control over that, but I think Sale is the first guy here," Quintana said. "And we need him to throw Opening Day. We want him to come back healthy."

Sale will be away from baseball activities until at least March 21 with an avulsion fracture in his right foot. While the White Sox are holding out hope that the southpaw will be ready for his third straight Opening Day assignment on April 6 in Kansas City, they are being realistic in understanding that particular time frame could be a little tight.

Outlook: Quintana, SP, CWS

If Sale is unable to go, the prevailing school of thought is that Jeff Samardzija would start Game 1 after doing the same for the Cubs in 2014. Samardzija has emerged as one of the baseball's top starters, but Quintana is not too far removed from that elite list. He has been hampered by 39 career no-decisions, which stand as the most in that category since 2012, and his 17 no-decisions in 2013 set a single-season American League and franchise record.

So Quintana and his career 3.50 ERA are due for a little good fortune. Maybe the four runs scored by the White Sox on Wednesday while he was still in the game serve as a harbinger of good things to come.

"Sometimes you have to look for runs, but you need to keep the team in the game," said Quintana of his frequent tough mound luck. "I throw a lot of tough games. I think this year is better, with better hitters, and we have a chance this year.

"It's a good start for the year. I get a chance every five days to win, and they make it better for me."

Against the Dodgers, Quintana threw 20 of his 26 pitches for strikes. He fanned Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier and felt like the comfortable veteran that he has become in his fourth season as part of the White Sox rotation. There were still a little bit of nerves for Quintana before his first pitch to Jimmy Rollins.

"Yeah, because it has been a long time since you've seen hitters," Quintana said. "You have a chance to throw a good pitch and practice everything. But I feel really good and happy with this start, and I'm ready for the next."

"That's just Q. He looks strong," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, adding the White Sox are still kicking around the rotation's alignment. "He was eager for this start, even all day long he was ready to go. He always is. He just looks good. The more maturity this kid gets, he gets even better."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.