GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Spring Training watchwords for Jose Quintana appear to be durability and change.
Durability, as in the hard work he put in during the offseason and carrying over into Arizona geared toward helping him stay strong through the entire season. And change, as in the pitch he really worked on during three perfect innings Saturday in a 4-0 victory over the Reds.
"I'm really locked in on my changeup," said Quintana through translator and White Sox coach Lino Diaz. "I'm working on all areas, but the changeup is the concentration right now for me."
Quintana, 24, was an absolute revelation for most of the 2012 season, posting a 1.76 ERA in May and a 2.38 ERA in June as a rotation replacement for the injured John Danks. But even with an eight-inning effort in which the southpaw allowed one earned run against the Rangers and eight innings of shutout ball thrown against the Red Sox, Quintana's ERA jumped to 3.67 in July.
It only got worse in the final two months, with a 4.20 ERA in August and a 6.75 ERA in September. In Quintana's defense, his 185 innings thrown between the White Sox and Double-A Birmingham represented 83 more than he had ever thrown in a single season.
Fatigue definitely set in late, causing Quintana to get right back to work shortly after the 2012 season came to a close.
"I took a little break, but after that I went to work and always thinking about durability for this year and strength toward the end of the season," said Quintana. "I went cardio, then weights and started throwing a bit.
"My arm felt good, but I don't know if necessarily it was good, but I felt good. I'm just preparing mentally this year for a longer season, but last year was the first year I had a season like that."
Quintana needed a mere 39 pitches, of which 25 were strikes, to cruise through his Saturday outing. He went to a 3-1 count on Joey Votto in the first and went full on Jay Bruce in the second, but retired Votto on a groundout to second and struck out Bruce swinging.
He was satisfied with his work and command of pitches and he was happy that his hard work showed early results.
"We're all competing to win the division," Quintana said. "We're not competing with anything else."
Velocity not on Danks' mind in early outings
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Factoring in Saturday's light side session, John Danks completed the first part of his Spring Training rehab work in coming back from Aug. 6 arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. That work included two bullpen sessions and three live batting-practice sessions, pushing toward Monday's Cactus League debut at home against the Giants, against whom Danks will throw two innings.
It did not include any looks at the radar gun, which rarely matters in the early going of Spring Training, as pitchers are stretching out and building arm strength. While Danks will have a better idea of where he stands velocity-wise on Monday, he still has other priorities ahead of speed in his road back.
"Velocity, the way [pitching coach Don Cooper] is always preaching it to us, that's the third most important thing," said Danks after his Saturday morning bullpen session. "He wants us to be able to throw the ball where we want to and make the ball move the way we want to before we worry about velocity.
"There might be some trying to learn how to pitch with a little less on the fastball at least early. I anticipate it coming back to normal eventually."
Danks hasn't pitched in any sort of game since throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings in beating the Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 19, 2012. A healthy Danks is excited to be getting back on the mound, but he also is excited with the progress made this spring.
"Now, it's just being able to get the ball to do what I want it to do," Danks said. "That's coming. We still have a little ways to go.
"It's fun to get back in the game situation and just have a little, I don't know, just being excited to be back out there and trying to get other guys out. Monday it's going to be about just trying to get outs."
Jones back in camp following birth of daughter
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A tired but jubilant Nate Jones returned to Camelback Ranch on Saturday following the birth of his first child, Lilly Mae. His wife Lacey gave birth on Wednesday, another euphoric moment in a two-year stretch of excitement for the right-hander.
"It sure has," said Jones, who was a surprise to break camp with the team in 2012 and then posted an 8-0 record with a 2.37 ERA over 65 appearances. "With last year especially and this past Wednesday, it's life-changing."
Jones acknowledged the three days served as a good rest, but he was ready to jump back into action. He threw a scoreless sixth inning, striking out two, during the a 4-0 victory over the Reds.
"We'll throw him in a game and on-track him more," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper of Jones. "He missed a couple days. No big deal. He pitches today then two days off and pitches vs. [Team] USA. We'll run him out for an inning and get him back going."
Third to first
• Matt Thornton threw an extended bullpen session on Saturday and is ready for his Cactus League debut against Team USA on Tuesday.
"I was at 40-plus, maybe even 50 pitches," Thornton said. "I threw a lot rapid-fire, kind of on purpose and let it go as much as I could in that kind of atmosphere in the bullpen. It felt great."
Thornton was briefly sidelined this spring by triceps soreness but was never worried it would throw him off track.
• Brent Morel got the start at shortstop Saturday and handled two chances flawlessly. Manager Robin Ventura said that eventually Morel will get another shot there.
"It's a little work in progress of him at short," Ventura said. "Again, it's just to get a look, get him some at-bats. You know, move some guys around. Conor [Gillaspie] being over at first base [on Saturday], just to get a look at him."
• White Sox starting pitchers have allowed two earned runs over their last 13 1/3 innings, covering five games.
• Jeff Keppinger played third Saturday for the first time in Cactus League action. He'll have Sunday off, according to Ventura, and then play two straight at third.
• Gavin Floyd, Scott Snodgress, Hector Santiago, Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom and Dylan Axelrod are scheduled to join Thornton in pitching against Team USA on Tuesday.
• Ventura was not sure of the return date to camp for Alexei Ramirez, who is home in Florida taking care of a family matter.
• The White Sox have a "B" game scheduled for Monday morning.