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Notes: Cintron OK despite tight calf

Notes: Cintron OK despite tight calf

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Alex Cintron gave postgame high marks to his surgically repaired right elbow after handling two chances at shortstop without a hitch in his spring debut during Monday's "B" game against the Rockies at the Kino Sports Complex.

But for a brief moment, it looked as if the utility infielder's recovery from the offseason removal of bone spurs was the least of his issues. Cintron seemed to be bothered by pain in his left calf after beating out a throw to reach on a first-inning error, and he left after three innings and a second at-bat.

The manner in which Cintron slammed his glove into his equipment bag before exiting made it seem as if the calf pain might be something significant, but through a White Sox spokesman, athletic trainer Herm Schneider termed it as nothing more than tightness. Cintron concurred, speaking in calm tones a little more than one hour after receiving treatment.

"It tightened up on me, but it was nothing serious," Cintron said. "Just getting out there the first time, I tried to beat the throw to first, and I did. But when I touched the bag, I felt something weird.

"I did think it was serious when it first happened. I haven't played since last year -- this is my first game in action. I went hard down the line right away, in my first at-bat, and it started bothering me for a couple of innings. It feels much better right now."

Cintron's return to the field also brought a new throwing angle at shortstop, as his old style of releasing the ball at 90 degrees has been replaced for health reasons by a more over-the-top motion. The first throw from Cintron came from the side and short-hopped first baseman Eduardo Perez, but he came up with the baseball.

This change in style serves as an adjustment for Cintron, an over-the-top action he has to trust the more he plays in the field. But being pain-free in action was Monday's most important step for Cintron.

"I'm excited to go out and get my at-bats," said Cintron, who isn't on a back-to-back-day schedule yet but hopes to play on Wednesday against Kansas City. "I feel good. My timing is just a little bit off, but I was moving good on the bases and in the field."

"B" ready: If visiting fans come looking for Jim Thome during the Cactus League stretch from March 18-20, they will probably have a better chance finding him playing Minor League games in Tucson. Thome plans on taking the same approach that worked so well for him late last spring in that when the team makes a three-day trip to Peoria (Padres), Surprise (Royals) and Phoenix (A's), he's going to stay back and get at-bats in every inning against the Minor Leaguers.

"For my role as a designated hitter, it really helps me get a feel for the game when I get all the at-bats that I get," said Thome, who finished 1-for-4 with a double during Monday's "B" game in Tucson. "I try to take it that you're getting something out of it, whether you're on the big-league field or you're down below.

"You still have to try and approach the game like you would if you were into that game speed. I try to take it as serious as I can."

After missing most of the 2005 season because of right elbow tendinitis and a lower back strain, Thome needed the at-bats last spring. But he also parlayed this approach into a red-hot start to the 2006 season, with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs in April, and he doesn't want to mess with success.

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"My body is ahead of where it was a year ago, but it's always taken my swing a little bit of time to get going," Thome said. "Knowing that, it's up to me to go out there and make sure that I get those at-bats but be sensible about it.

"Make sure I get my work. [Bench coach] Joey [Cora] and [manager] Ozzie [Guillen] both do a good job of communicating on that end."

More than a feeling: Mark Buehrle allowed Bill Hall's solo blast in the second on Monday, but he otherwise looked strong during three innings in Maryvale against Milwaukee. Buehrle breezed through his work quickly enough that he threw an additional 15 pitches in the bullpen, with other pitchers needing the game work.

Although the results were far better the second time around, Buehrle has felt great in each of his two trips to the mound.

"Confidence-wise and numbers-wise, it's a lot better," Buehrle said. "Physically, I felt the same.

"I did throw more backdoor cutters, sinkers inside to righties, and I was using everything this time," added Buehrle, who changed speeds more than his first start. "I threw more curves and offspeed pitches to keep them off-balance."

Wish you were here: Toby Hall, who caught Bobby Jenks in Monday's "B" game in Tucson, would have liked to hit Mesa on Sunday in order to catch up with Lou Piniella, his onetime manager in Tampa Bay. But Hall doesn't need to take part in the Cubs-White Sox rematch on March 16 in Tucson to learn anything new about baseball rivalries.

"You always hear about the Cubs-White Sox," Hall said. "But I've watched many Boston-Yankees games. Being with the Dodgers last year, we went to San Francisco. I imagine this one will be a good battle, too."

Around the horn: Jerry Owens made a slick sliding catch into the fence along the left-field line during Monday's "B" game victory over the Rockies. ... Rookie Lance Broadway continued to struggle with his location, allowing two runs on two hits and one walk over two innings in Maryvale. Broadway has walked four without picking up a strikeout over 4 2/3 innings this spring. ... Luis Terrero was charged with a caught stealing of home against Milwaukee when Tadahito Iguchi missed a squeeze sign.

Up next: Javier Vazquez will make his second spring start at 2:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday against the Rockies at Tucson Electric Park.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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