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Levine: Jose Quintana Perfect In Spring Debut

By Bruce Levine-

GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) -- The first game of the White Sox's Cactus League season arrived Wednesday afternoon and featured left-hander Jose Quintana on the mound facing the Dodgers.

With Chris Sale sidelined for several weeks with a foot injury, the four pitchers behind him have moved up a spot in the rotation. Quintana is now likely to start the second game of the regular season.

The Opening Day nod against Kansas City on April 6 should go to Jeff Samardzija, unless manager Robin Ventura surprises and chooses the steady Quintana instead.

"I don't have control of that," Quintana said of the Opening Day assignment. "I would like (to open) one time. Sale is our first guy. We need him to throw Opening Day. We want him back healthy."

Quintana has been more underrated pitchers in baseball the past three seasons. The White Sox's lack of offense behind him has been prevalent in that stretch, as Quintana had 12 no-decisions last season and leads all pitchers with 39 no-decisions since 2012.

The White Sox were 12-20 in Quintana's 32 starts in 2014, mark that must improve for the team to have the success it wants this season. Quintana went 9-11 with a 3.32 ERA in 2014.

"I feel I am more consistent pitcher now," Quintana said " I feel I will be at my best every start. Last year I had to throw a lot of tough game. Your job is to keep the team in the game. This year I think we have better hitters, and we have a chance this year."

Quintana was signed before the 2014 season to a five-year deal worth $26.5 million. The club-favorable deal runs through 2018, with two club options.

On Wednesday, Quintana threw two scoreless innings without allowing a baserunner in his first spring outing. He was efficient, striking out two of the six hitters he faced and throwing 20 of 26 pitches for strikes.

"I was a little nervous because of the long time between innings," he said. "I felt good and was able to work on all of my pitches. I was happy about this start and am looking forward to the next one."

Quintana has registered 48 quality starts in his 90 outings across three years for the White Sox, and he aims to become an ace himself. He has a good role model for that in Sale.

"We will miss Sale, but he has a lot of time to come back," Quintana said. "We hope he is ready for Opening Day, but I don't feel any (extra) pressure."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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