Quintana preps against Minor League hitters

Lefty tosses six shutout innings, eyes double-digit wins

Quintana preps against Minor League hitters

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Nothing has changed for Jose Quintana during Spring Training. Nothing shown by the White Sox southpaw has surprised his manager, Robin Ventura.

And that's a good thing for one of Major League Baseball's most underrated players, who has thrown at least 200 innings in three straight seasons and never had an ERA higher than 3.51 in that stretch. Yet he has never reached double-digit wins.

"Not by me or anybody in that clubhouse, but outside [he's underrated] just because of the record," said Ventura. "He's very reliable and highly respected inside the clubhouse, not only for his pitching, but how he's carried himself as well. He's a great kid."

Quintana was at work on the back fields of Camelback Ranch on Sunday afternoon while Ventura was managing the White Sox to a 6-2 Cactus League victory over the A's in Mesa. The southpaw was so efficient that he needed only 69 pitches to get through six shutout innings against a Reds' Minor League squad, adding 15 more pitches in the bullpen.

"A lot of first-pitch strikes," said White Sox catcher Alex Avila, who guided Quintana through an effort that included three strikeouts and two walks. "Since there's nothing on hitters, you're focusing on working on certain pitches in certain counts and situations that he's been working on. It's a bonus when there are runners on so he can work on making pitches to get out of innings without any damage."

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Avila added that Quintana threw some really good curveballs and worked on his cutter on both sides of the plate. It was a pitch that actually got better as the contest progressed.

"The real test was going into that last inning, getting up that sixth inning," Avila said. "You could tell he was breathing heavier, extending himself, having to make pitches while he was tired, so good day of work all the way around."

"Good time to practice a couple of things. I felt pretty good today. I feel almost ready, and that's the point here," Quintana said. "They swung a lot, you know. That's good. Try to attack the zone early and get quick outs, and it's a surprise for me when they said I had [69] pitches after six innings. That's a good workout."

Ventura made it clear Sunday that the remaining work for players such as Quintana will be done on the big Cactus League fields. Quintana's next start comes Friday in Peoria against the Mariners, as he sets himself up to start the second regular-season contest in Oakland.

"I feel better than last year," Quintana said. "I get a little bit more experience and I know what way an inning goes. That's my focus, trying to help the team and get some more wins this year for me."

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.