Floyd holding high hopes this season

Floyd holds high hopes this season

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Gavin Floyd felt as if he had plenty more than three innings in his right arm. Floyd was, after all, on a roll on Saturday. So why not keep the roll going?

"I felt like I was just turning it on," Floyd said. "It'll be exciting to get deeper into the game."

He'll get his chance at that, too.

The White Sox have plans for Gavin Floyd, whose name they've penciled into their starting rotation. They have high expectations for him.

Such expectations have been what Floyd has been trying to live up to from the moment the Phillies used the No. 4 overall pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft on a high-school pitcher in Baltimore with the eye-popping stuff.

But Floyd isn't that high schooler anymore. He's not a teenager these days, either. He's 25 years old now -- old enough to have fulfilled some of the great expectations other people had saddled him with.

All he has to show for his 40 games in the big leagues is an 8-10 record and a 6.30 ERA, plus a travel itinerary to the Major Leagues that includes cities such as Clearwater, Reading, Scranton and Charlotte.

Those aren't the places anybody expected Floyd to be. Those aren't the numbers anybody expected from Floyd, either. Those aren't the numbers he expected for himself.

Yet it's not as if he's clinging to a last chance. He remains a pitcher whose ceiling is high. He understands that as well as anybody else these days.

"Right now is different from the past," he said after his three-hit, two-run outing against the D-backs. "I feel confident in myself and what I can do.

"I've been through some stuff; I've learned."

Fulfilling expectations is about learning the craft. The lessons can be hard ones.

For not even the most gifted pitchers jump from high school straight to the bigs overnight, no matter how electric their arms are.

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They find outs are harder to come by in the Major Leagues than anywhere else, and Floyd's struggles to get outs proved that statement true.

Still, nobody's rushing to give up on him -- at least nobody at White Sox camp. He's heard from reporters that manager Ozzie Guillen has liked what he's seen in camp. Guillen liked what he saw when Floyd got a shot with the White Sox last season.

Guillen said he knew the expectations weighed on Floyd. Maybe they were too heavy a burden for him to carry. Maybe that's why he never could live up too them.

Until now.

Something seems to have clicked with Floyd, Guillen said. It could be simply that he's found an organization that believes in him.

"I just go out there and say, 'Listen, you know what? I think you have great stuff. Go out there, perform and regardless what happens, it's my fault,'" Guillen said. "He's got the manager, the pitching coach, the GM and the players behind him.

"When you've got all these people behind you, you should just go out, perform and forget about everything."

That appears to be what Floyd has done this spring: He's performed. Performance has fostered confidence.

For nothing builds confidence in a pitcher better than performance, and the better Floyd has performed the more confidence he's shown. It might be just what he needs to hold on to the starting spot that has his name next to it.

"For me, I think knowing what you can do and knowing how you feel on an everyday basis, that's what's gonna get me through the season," he said. "Hopefully, I'll do real well."

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