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Keuchel, Grandal aiming to gear up for regular season.

Byline: Scot Gregor

Opening Day is two weeks away, and a pair of key White Sox veterans made their Cactus League debuts on Thursday.

In a 9-7 win over the Royals outfielder Adam Engel was 3-for-4 and a single shy of hitting for the cycle Dallas Keuchel was on the mound and Yasmani Grandal was behind the plate.

Keuchel was fuming after being pulled from his first spring start with two outs in the first inning, but the 33-year-old lefty came back out for the second and stuck around to get an out in the third inning.

In the first, Keuchel allowed 4 runs on 3 hits, a walk and a hit batter when manager Tony La Russa came out of the dugout.

"I know the rule of you can roll the innings, so I was very confused with Tony coming out, taking the ball," Keuchel said. "I'm trying to get my work in but I had no idea what was going on. So when I got in the dugout I was pretty heated and (pitching coach Adam) Katz came up to me pretty quickly and said, Hey, relax, you're going back out there.' I was like, What?' Then he explained to me the situation. It was weird but I actually like it a lot more because you kind of take care of the starters, especially to kind of limit their pitches because ultimately you're just trying to get ready for the regular season."

Keuchel allowed 5 runs on 5 hits over 2? innings before calling it a day, and he has two more exhibition starts. Will he be ready to face the Angels on April 2?

"I will continue to really climb the pitch count, at least 15 to 20 pitches next outing and then 15 to 20 after that," Keuchel said. "So I'll be right at 90 pitches for the first game, which could very well easily be 5, 6, 7 innings at 75 pitches."

Grandal twisted his right knee during a running drill early in camp. He has been able to hit and finally got to catch Thursday.

"I hope we can get on track," Grandal said. "It's going to be day-to-day. It's going to be, how much workload can we get in and seeing how the knee reacts. So far it's been good, but we're definitely not going to be pushing it too hard, just in case. Hopefully in the next week or two, we'll get enough repetitions in to feel comfortable going into the season."

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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Scot Gregor
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Mar 19, 2021
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