MESA, Ariz. -- Young White Sox hurlers Zach Stewart and Dylan Axelrod continue to make the long relief decision a tough one, with both turning in solid outings during Sunday's 7-5 victory over the Cubs in 10 innings at HoHoKam Park.
That decision could be tough enough where both pitchers end up joining Hector Santiago in claiming the club's final three bullpen slots.
"It could be two, but we have some guys who are pitching well and it's tough to look at them and know exactly what you're needing right now," manager Robin Ventura said after his first victory over the Cubs. "Both pitched impressively today. They have been getting stronger and better each time they go out."
Stewart got the start in Mesa with the White Sox not wanting to mess with Gavin Floyd's routine against inclement weather. He threw three innings, allowing two runs on six hits and fanning three.
"My first inning was real good," Stewart said. "Second inning, I got guys on and kind of rushed out of the stretch and I was leaving some balls up and got hit a little bit.
"Overall, I think I corrected it in that third inning. It's just stuff I'm working on, changeup, keeping the two-seam [fastball] down. Things like that. In the second inning, I rushed a little bit. It wasn't too big of a deal."
Axelrod retired all nine batters he faced, three via strikeouts, as some of the Cubs' regulars started to filter out of the contest. With Santiago a veritable lock to break camp with the team, Stewart and Axelrod figure to be in a battle with Brian Bruney, Eric Stults and even Nate Jones as a long-shot candidate to earn two relief vacancies.
Teams don't often like to judge pitching based on results in the Arizona climate. But in this instance, the best man in Spring Training certainly could lock down at least one of the spots.
Forecast alters Floyd's game plan
MESA, Ariz. -- Instead of starting in Sunday's 7-5 victory over the Cubs at HoHoKam Park as originally scheduled, Gavin Floyd pitched on the back fields of Camelback Ranch. The forecast was for rain most of the day in the Mesa area, but the heavy stuff had cleared by the start of the game.
Floyd threw a five-inning simulated game, and looked good according to White Sox manager Robin Ventura. Since the start of Cactus League games, the talented subject of trade rumors has pitched in one "B" game, an intrasquad contest, one spring game and then Sunday's simulated action.
"With the rain, we didn't want to chance it bringing him here and starting and stopping things like that," said Ventura. "So we kind of moved him up."
Crain may resume throwing this week
MESA, Ariz. -- After being scratched last Wednesday because of a slightly strained right oblique, reliever Jesse Crain could begin to throw lightly over the next couple of days.
"We'll see how that goes," said manager Robin Ventura. "He's been in with [White Sox head athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider], and Herm's not worried about it, so I'm not worried about it."
Ventura couldn't exactly describe what throwing lightly constitutes for Crain, who has thrown just three innings this spring. But he's not worried about Crain's lack of work heading into the regular season.
"You're not worried about the innings as much," Ventura said. "Just making sure he's strong and healthy."
Sveum appreciates Ventura's knowledge, style
MESA, Ariz. -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura joked that Sunday's extra-inning victory over the Cubs would have meant more if Cubs manager Dale Sveum was in attendance and not in Las Vegas with the team's split-squad roster against the Rangers. The two played together on the White Sox in 1992, and before the first 2012 Cactus League contest between the Cubs and White Sox, Sveum heaped praise upon his counterpart and friend.
"I'm disappointed I didn't get to play a lot longer with Robin. He's one of those special guys," Sveum said. "He's got an incredible personality. He's quick and very sarcastic. I admired it when I was there for 40 days.
"He's that guy who people can get around and understand the way he does things -- it's very quiet but very efficient. He's definitely the right guy for the job who hasn't had the chance to manage anywhere else. He's the guy who's capable of stepping right in and doing things. He knows the game as well as anybody. He knows the ins and outs and he's the kind of guy people will follow."
Third to first
Sunday's 50-degree temperature at HoHoKam Park should get the White Sox ready for Opening Day in April in Chicago. Starters such as Brent Morel, Paul Konerko and Alex Rios got a couple of at-bats and then were replaced.
"It was nice to get some jackets on," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of the temperature, sitting 28 degrees colder than the high in Chicago. "It was good for our guys. They kind of liked it."
Jordan Danks hit the game-winning homer for the White Sox, launching one to right in the 10th inning off Marcos Mateo. Dan Johnson also homered in the victory, as he continues to battle with Eduardo Escobar and Dallas McPherson for the final bench spot.