White Sox front-line hitters look ready; Vince Velasquez strikes out 5 in loss to Cubs

Cubs 15, Sox 9

Velasquez misses bats

Right-hander Vince Valesquez struck out five, walked two and was charged with two runs on two hits over 2 1/3 innings in Mesa, Ariz. He said his role hasn’t been communicated but it looks like fifth starter. “I’m proud of the progress I’ve made all spring,” said Velasquez, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal March 14. “This is probably just the beginning of what I’m capable of doing.”

Sluggers connect

Luis Robert (.353) had three hits including a two-run double, raising his Cactus League leading RBI total to 12; Tim Anderson (.429) had two hits including a double and Cub killer Eloy Jimenez ripped a tracer of a home run to left field against David Robertson. Jimenez (.324) has three homers this spring. Right fielder AJ Pollock was scratched due to a head cold and his replacement, Andrew Vaughn (.435), had three singles. Danny Mendick (.125) also homered.

Gonzalez, Severino optioned

Infielder Romy Gonzalez and left-hander Anderson Severino were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Gonzalez, who hit two homers this spring, was competing with Mendick for a utility spot, and Severino and Bennett Sousa were considered the top relievers competing for a No. 2 lefty role behind Aaron Bummer. Sousa recorded one out and gave up four hits, including a homer to former Sox Nick Madrigal. He struck out two.

New catcher incoming

Catcher Reese McGuire, acquired from the Blue Jays in a trade for Zack Collins Sunday, is scheduled to make his first and only start of the spring for the Sox.

On deck

Sox at Padres, Peoria, 2:05 p.m., Michael Kopech (1-0, 4.50) vs. Blake Snell (0-1, 13.50). Liam Hendriks, Aaron Bummer and Kyle Crick — who hasn’t allowed a run over six spring relief appearances and figures to make the Opening Day roster — are also scheduled to pitch in the Cactus League finale for Sox (8-10). Crick has allowed one hit. Kopech, named as the third starter in the rotation Monday, is scheduled for three innings.

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