Recovering Beck buoyed by bullpen session

Avila getting to know White Sox staff, discusses leadership perception

Recovering Beck buoyed by bullpen session

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Beck threw a bullpen session on Saturday afternoon at Camelback Ranch, which doesn't exactly count as breaking news on the second day of workouts for White Sox pitchers and catchers.

But for the 25-year-old and No. 10 White Sox prospect, it's a moment that he wasn't certain would be possible at the end of last season as he tried to figure out elbow issues stemming from one pitch in a June 3 Minor League start. Those problems came shortly after Beck's Major League debut during a May 28 doubleheader in Baltimore.

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"I guess it was like a wormhole of just confusion, to say the least," Beck said. "You are at the pinnacle of your baseball career, making your debut. You go down [to the Minors], and the next start you are having great stuff again, and one pitch it kind of freaks out."

Beck eventually underwent ulnar nerve transposition, where the nerve is repositioned, in late October. It was a far cry better than Tommy John surgery, as the right-hander already had thrown off the mound eight times in his rehab process before Saturday's effort. He arrived in Arizona around the first of the year to work with Minor League medical and rehab coordinator Scott Takao and Minor League physical therapist Sean Bardenett to be fully ready for Spring Training.

"Now my arm feels better than it did pre-surgery," said Beck, who will begin the year as part of Triple-A Charlotte's rotation. "I've attacked some different things, not just pertaining to the elbow, but hips and ankles and stuff like that. It has eased off some of the stress on my arm, so everything is going in the right direction."

Beck's first career strikeout

Avila building relationships

In two days of work, Alex Avila already has caught bullpen sessions thrown by Chris Sale, Carson Fulmer, Erik Johnson, Zach Putnam and Zach Duke. The new White Sox catcher is getting to know the staff through this early Spring Training action.

"It's important just to start to get to know guys as far as their daily routines, their work ethics, how they kind of go about getting ready for the games and getting themselves in shape," Avila said. "That's important. The biggest jump will be once games start."

Avila admitted to his first Spring Training in Arizona and his first camp not being part of the Tigers being a little strange, joking with some of the clubhouse guys that his catcher's gear is still going to be navy and white rather than black and white. Manager Robin Ventura said that the usage of Avila or fellow new catcher Dioner Navarro will be dependent on opposing pitchers and the White Sox pitcher on that day.

"There are going to be guys who like throwing to certain guys and have a better rapport. Both of them have a pretty good track record of guys liking to throw to them," Ventura said. "You need to score some runs too, so that's going to be a determining factor of which guy is going to be in there."

Worth noting

• Both Ventura and Avila were asked the all-too-common leadership question in terms of the current White Sox team and concurred it's not necessarily about results on the field.

"It's not so much something you should earn by how you play," Avila said. "There's a lot of [jerks] that play really well that you wouldn't consider leaders. It's a bit of misconception from a lot of people. My role will be … if I'm doing my job right as far as being a leader, you won't hear about it, basically is my point."

"That stuff is earned," Ventura said. "You can't come in and pound your chest and say, 'I'm the guy that's going to lead,' because the things that make you not a leader are going to come out. It might not be just the player that's out there, but it's how he treats other teammates, how he treats fans, how he goes about his work."

• Bobby Jenks, the closer on the 2005 White Sox World Series champion squad, was in camp on Saturday.

They said it

"I really don't look at the schedule or when we're going where or something like that. We play them a lot, so we'll get there eventually." -- Avila, on facing the Tigers in '16

"We're trying to win games, and he understands that. It's not a knock against him. It's just he knows we're going to have to be able to score some runs." -- Ventura, reiterating a point on Adam LaRoche having to earn his at-bats

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