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Notes: Masset flexible with role

Notes: Masset flexible with role

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Nick Masset was asked what would be his best pitching role.

"Closer!" White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, sitting in the next cubicle, quickly answered for the 24-year-old right-hander.

Masset laughed. He had just pitched a perfect inning against the Angels to help his chances of winning a job in the White Sox bullpen.

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"I'm really happy," Masset said of his performance in Spring Training. "I'm attacking hitters, throwing strikes. I feel like my changeup is coming along quite a bit. I've been throwing it over the plate for strikes, and I can throw it to lefties or righties at any time."

Masset, acquired from the Rangers along with pitchers John Danks and Jacob Rasner in the deal that sent Brandon McCarthy to Texas, has been pitching well after a so-so beginning this spring.

"We all know he's got a good arm -- hopefully, he'll continue to do that," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "The way he's throwing the ball right now, I don't see why he won't make the team."

Masset throws five pitches: fastball, curveball, cutter, slider and changeup. He's also showing an ability to be equally effective against left-handers and right-handers and has adapted well to a relief role, although most of his experience in the Minor Leagues was as a starter.

"Wherever they put me, I'm happy," Masset said. "I've done it all, so I'd love to be long relief for them this year, because I've always been a starter, and if they need me for two or three [innings] out of the bullpen, I feel like I can do it."

Pierzynski's odyssey: A.J. Pierzynski was a late scratch from Saturday's lineup because he didn't arrive at Tucson Electric Park until approximately 35 minutes before game time.

Pierzynski had been given Friday off, in addition to Thursday's off-day, to visit his family in Florida. Pierzynski has a 6-week-old son who is too young to travel. The visit went fine, but the return to camp was a nightmare.

Pierzynski boarded a U.S. Air flight from Orlando to Las Vegas, but 45 minutes after takeoff, things went wrong.

"We had to make an emergency landing in Tallahassee," Pierzynski said. "All the generators failed on the plane -- there was no power. [The plane] flew fine, but they couldn't take the chance. [The pilot] said if something else went wrong, we would have major problems, which I took as 'crash.'"

Pierzynski spent the night in the Tallahassee airport and caught a flight from there to Atlanta at 6 a.m. ET on Saturday.

"I had to run and catch my plane in Atlanta, got to Phoenix at 9, had another mechanical failure in Phoenix and had to wait there two hours," he said.

The catcher finally caught a flight to Tucson and made it in time to at least watch the game from the dugout.

"Good travel," Pierzynski said. "Sitting in the Tallahssee airport is a lot of fun. But I got to see my family."

Aardsma answers: Another candidate for a bullpen spot, right-hander David Aardsma, matched Masset with a scoreless inning of his own.

"I think this was the best he's thrown the ball all spring," Guillen said. "He was throwing the ball over the plate -- I'd like to see that more often. We all know this kid's got a pretty good arm. I was happy with his outing today. He did what he's supposed to do, and hopefully, that's a step forward for him."

Aardsma, obtained from the Cubs for Neal Cotts, has a fastball that has been clocked as high as 97 mph, along with a slider and changeup. Command has been an issue for the first-round pick (22nd overall) of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. He walked one on Saturday.

Spring Training
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Getting close: With two weeks of camp remaining, Guillen wants his team to start turning it up a notch in preparation for the season. With that in mind, the lineup Guillen first wrote out for the game against the Angels could be very close to the one he uses on Opening Day against the Cleveland Indians.

Guillen's initial batting order consisted of Pablo Ozuna at third base, Darin Erstad in left field, Jim Thome at designated hitter, Paul Konerko at first base, Jermaine Dye in right field, Pierzynski catching, Tadahito Iguchi at second base, Alex Cintron at shortstop and Brian Anderson in center field.

Thome, Konerko, Dye, Pierzynski and Iguchi are locks. Assuming that Scott Podsednik is ready to go Opening Day -- and if the outfielder's performance on Friday is any indication, he has recovered from his sports hernia injury -- he could start in left field, with Erstad in center. Juan Uribe is ahead of Cintron at shortstop, and of course Joe Crede, not Ozuna, will be the regular third baseman.

Quotable: "We're playing a lot better baseball the last three or four games, and I expect to play better and better when we get close to the season. I'm really happy with the stage we are [at] right now." -- Guillen

Extra bases: Anderson twisted his right ankle in the ninth inning of Sunday's game, but he was not believed to be seriously injured. "I kind of rolled over it," Anderson said. "When I saw it give out, it kind of freaked me out a little bit. But I'm fine." ... Pierzynski was replaced in the lineup by Gustavo Molina. ... Ozuna made a diving catch of a hot smash off the bat of Jeff Mathis in the fifth inning. ... Entering Saturday's game against the Angels, the White Sox had scored 71 runs (10.1 per game) and batted .357 (92-for-255) with 17 doubles and 14 home runs over their last seven games. ... Outfielder Luis Terrero, signed as a free agent on Nov. 3, is batting .333 with a .391 on-base percentage, two homers and six RBIs in his bid to make the Opening Day roster. Terrero, 26, is a career .235 hitter. He hit .318 with 16 homers and 44 RBIs in 84 games for Triple-A Ottawa last season and .200 during 27 games with Baltimore. ... First baseman Eduardo Perez will be out the next couple of days because of a strained right calf. ... The White Sox wore green caps on Saturday in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

On deck: The battle for the final spot in the White Sox rotation will be front and center on Sunday when the White Sox head up I-10 to Peoria for a 4:05 p.m. CT game against the Padres at Peoria Stadium. Left-hander John Danks, perhaps the leading candidate at this point for the fifth spot in the Sox rotation, will make his first start of the spring after four consecutive relief appearances. Danks enters the start 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA in the spring. Right-hander Gavin Floyd, another top contender for the spot, will follow Danks on the mound. Right-hander Matt Thornton is also scheduled to pitch for the White Sox. The Padres will start left-hander David Wells.

Jim Molony 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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