Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease ‘checked all the boxes’ on outing that included a single out – The Mercury News


It must have been one of Dylan Cease’s most unique outings.

The Chicago White Sox right-hander was credited with a punch when Oakland Athletics shortstop Kevin Smith was called for an automatic strike for a batter’s violation tied to the clock to end his second inning at bat.

Cease raised his fist as he walked back to the Sox dugout.

“It was a little bit of sarcasm, but a little bit of ‘this is cool’ kind of mixed in,” Cease said with a smile on Tuesday.

He agreed that it was one of his best pitches of the afternoon.

“Saved a bullet and got a strikeout?” Cease said. “You are killing two birds with one stone.”

2022 American League runner-up Cy Young was back in form at Camelback Ranch, allowing an earned run on three hits with four strikeouts in 3⅓ innings in a 5–4 win on Tuesday.

Cease bounced back from a rare night off in his final game, when he allowed 11 earned runs in two-thirds of an inning on March 8 against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium.

“Whenever you get beaten really well, I think the best thing is to go back and keep going until you’re successful,” Cease said.

Manager Pedro Grifol said Cease “checked all the boxes” against the A’s.

“He was 94-97 (mph), started playing off-speed for hits,” Grifol said Wednesday morning. “He found it there after the first inning with all four (strikeouts). (He) felt good. He looked fine.

Cease struck out the last two batters in the second, including Smith. He started the third inning with his third strikeout of the game before exiting fourth after striking out Ryan Nola.

Control was an issue in Cease’s first two spring starts. He was only trailing shots as he allowed two walks on March 3 against the Cincinnati Reds. He was a little further off with the slider – his bread and butter pitch – against the Royals and allowed four walks.

His slider was working well on Tuesday, and overall Cease had better control, allowing two walks.

“Once I got stuck with (the slider on the second turn) I was pretty much able to do what I normally do with it,” he said. “I played (a) curve and sliders very well for strokes.

“I started slow and picked up the pace when I needed to. It is definitely a very positive step in the right direction.”

Command has been a focal point this spring for Cease, who led the majors with 78 walks last season.

“If I’m trailing 2-0 and playing fastballs, there’s not going to be the same dominance as when I’m going 0-1, 0-2 with my offspeed,” he said. “It just makes everything work better.

“It’s about throwing punches. It’s very simple. Just getting my stuff in the zone. Easier said than done, but once I’m ready to go, which I feel like I am now, I think those last two are going to be really sharp.

Cease knows that the sharper he is in the regular season, the deeper he can get into games.

“When you fall behind, they can just sit and get and get and get,” Cease said. “If you force them in early and then there’s poor contact, the pitch count definitely goes down. (It is) to be efficient, as efficient as possible.”

Cease likes the progression this spring, including where he currently stands with his speed.

“I have one or two more gear to go with it, but we were in the mid-90s for most of the day,” he said. “For spring training because it’s still relatively early, it’s definitely an improvement over my previous start.

“And I think I have two or three (plus spring) starts, I still have more time to build, so I think we’re in a good place.”


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