Jose Quintana made waves with the White Sox last season over his first 10 Major League appearances (eight starts), posting a 2.04 ERA before the All-Star break. But after that, the young left-hander seemed to tire as the year progressed, finishing with a 5.01 ERA in the second half of the season following the brilliant start to his career.
Now, beginning his second season in the Majors, Quintana hopes he'll be able to duplicate the success he experienced at the beginning of 2012, when he makes his season debut on Friday against the Mariners in the opener of a weekend series at U.S. Cellular Field.
Quintana, a southpaw, experienced plenty of success in the Cactus League this spring, allowing just three earned runs over 13 1/3 innings. As a goal for this season, Quintana wants to strike out more batters in his starts. Last year, he fanned 122 over 185 combined innings between Double-A Birmingham and the White Sox.
"In the Minor Leagues, I was able to strike out a lot of batters. Last year, I didn't as much, but was able to throw more strikes," Quintana said. "I want to be very efficient with my pitches. Pitching to contact is OK, but I want to be able to strike them out, too."
Opposing Quintana for the Mariners will be Blake Beavan, who allowed 14 runs in 19 1/3 innings this spring. The right-hander finished strong in 2012 though, going 8-5 with a 3.40 ERA in his final 14 outings after a midseason demotion to Triple-A Tacoma.
"I want to continue what I did the second half," Beavan said. "The second half is the pitcher I am. I know I can do that again. It's not rocket science. I figured out a lot of stuff when I got sent down and brought back up. A lot of it was confidence, trusting stuff. It's not a fluke for me. I know I'm capable of doing that. I know I'm capable of repeating and being consistent all year long. Now, I just need to go do it."
Mariners: Loe makes career-long outing
Reliever Kameron Loe had never pitched more than 2 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. The right-hander began his career as a starter, but in 195 appearances with the Brewers over the last two seasons, he had never extended himself that far.
That changed on Wednesday, when Loe went three full frames, holding the A's scoreless before giving up two solo homers leading off his last inning.
"I felt good the first two innings," Loe said. "Then, I threw a changeup that might not have had enough speed for the first one and hung a curveball to Chris Young. Other than that, I felt pretty dang good."
Despite allowing the long balls, manager Eric Wedge came away impressed with Loe's effort.
"The way he worked through those first two innings, he was in good shape going out for the third," Wedge said. "He just left a couple pitches up. But that's something he's going to need to do for us, and I thought he threw the ball well."
White Sox: Ventura wants diversity from homers
Manager Robin Ventura has no problems with his team consistently clearing the fences, after presiding over a club that hit 211 homers last season. But for the White Sox to return to the playoffs, the skipper would like to see his offense apply consistent pressure to opposing pitching, not just wait for a big blast every game.
"You'd like to be a little more complete in scoring runs," Ventura said. "For the length of the season, you're going to need more than just home runs.
"To win a lot of games and to win the tough games, you're going to have to knock runs in besides the home runs. Home runs are nice, but you're going to have to string together some hits and get some runs other ways. I like the home runs, but I also like those tough runs to be scored, too."
• After joining Sherm Lollar (1958) as the only two catchers in White Sox history to homer in the first two games of a season, Tyler Flowers failed to continue his long-ball streak on Thursday, but he did single and score the team's only run in a 3-1 loss to the Royals.
• The Mariners have not made an error in the first four games of a season for the first time 2009.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.