Floyd feeling good following return

Floyd feeling good following return

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The sound foretold the result: Crack!

It's not the sound any pitcher welcomes hearing, not when he's on the mound and toeing the rubber.

So as the sound echoed through Surprise Stadium, right-hander Gavin Floyd turned his back to home plate on Tuesday. Floyd was milliseconds away from watching that "crack" off Josh Hamilton's bat send a baseball sailing over the left-center-field wall.

"He crushed it," said Floyd, his right shoulder wrapped in an ice pack. "I was trying to get ahead, and he's an aggressive hitter, so ... "

Two batters later, Floyd would hear the sound again: Crack!

He turned toward right field this time and saw another ball land in home-run territory. Oh, the heartaches that can come with that sound -- and the frustrations, too.

"Both pitches were up," Floyd said.

But excuse Floyd if he didn't put too much weight to those sounds. For those two homers were both solo shots, and they were also the only runs Floyd would allow in an outing that went four innings.

Floyd's performance was encouraging. It was better than manager Ozzie Guillen had expected, considering it was Floyd's first start since he shook the flu bug a couple of days ago.

"I don't think I skipped a beat," Floyd said. "I feel real good. I'm just going to try and keep on throwing."

That's good news for Guillen, who has the 25-year-old Floyd slotted for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation. Guillen is seeing in Floyd these days the kind of ability that has long made him one of baseball's top prospects.

Finally, he seems on the verge of shaking the "prospect" label.

Catching the flu, though, wasn't something he needed, particularly with so much at stake. So he returned to game action with a since of urgency in that regard, he said.

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"I didn't wanna miss too much time," said Floyd, his voice hoarse. "As you can see, I'm still trying to get my throat back."

While assured of a starting slot, Floyd didn't want to take any chances. He's tried to treat this Spring Training like all the other ones in his past. He's approaching everything here as if he's battling for a spot.

"Your battle is with the hitters, you know," said Floyd, who called his outing a confidence booster. "You're trying to hit the catcher's mitt; you're trying to throw strikes, and that's what I focus on."

He won nearly all of those battles on Tuesday, enough of them, anyway, not to put his spot in the White Sox rotation at any risk.

"I feel pretty good with everything, you know," Floyd said. "I'm just trying to keep on building on each pitch."

In that regard, he has. He's had people in camp watching him closely, and he has not disappointed them.

"We don't have any doubts that he can go out and perform," Guillen said. "It's up to him to grab and keep it going and keep doing what he's doing right now and maintain.

"I don't mean maintain the stuff, maintain the confidence about pitching at the big league level."

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