CHICAGO — When the Chicago White Sox host the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, it will be the second start of the season for left-hander Jose Quintana.
Expected to be dealt this season as the White Sox continue their rebuild, a Quintana trade represents another chance for Chicago to refresh its farm system.
The White Sox just hope his first start of the season is a fluke.
In his Opening Day start Tuesday, Quintana (0-1, 10.13 ERA) allowed six runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to Detroit. The three home runs he allowed equaled a career high and raised questions about how Quintana’s handling the constant speculation about his future.
The White Sox, however, don’t sound too worried about their ace.
“Just chalk it up to an anomaly, and you expect when (Quintana) gets back out there again that he’ll be his old self,” manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Around Quintana, Chicago is a team in transition and trying to work through some growing pains.
In the ninth inning of Friday’s 3-1 loss to the Twins, two straight Chicago batters were walked by the Twins’ Brandon Kintzler with two outs. Up next was rookie Jacob May, who opted to swing at the first pitch and grounded out to second to end the game, handing Chicago a loss but also a teachable moment.
“Getting on base, working the at-bat would have been just as good as a base hit,” Renteria said Saturday. “But that’s more taking into account what type of situation was going on and what the pitcher was doing in the moment.”
Minnesota, meanwhile, is off to a winning start despite one of its best players struggling badly at the plate.
One year after a dreadful start that saw Minnesota lose its first nine games, the Twins are 4-1 and can still take this series from the White Sox (2-2). They’ve gotten there even without much offense from Byron Buxton.
Buxton had a pregame meeting with Molitor and was dropped to seventh in the order Saturday after starting the season batting .056 (1-for-18). He has continued to play stellar defense for the Twins. On Friday, Buxton made a pair of highlight-reel plays in the field and didn’t let his struggling offense impact his defense.
“He loves to pick up our team any way that he can,” Molitor said. “No question, I think our pitching staff has a high level of appreciation for he goes about playing defense out there in center field.”
As for Buxton’s offense, Molitor is confident his bat won’t stay silent all season. On Saturday, Buxton was 1-for-4 with a double and made hard contact twice. Still, he’s only 2-for-22 with 13 strikeouts so far this season.
“I still feel that it’s going to get going here,” Molitor said. “I think it’s just going to be an at-bat or two where he feels something.”
Right-hander Ervin Santana (1-0, 1.29 ERA) starts Sunday for Minnesota and owns an 8-8 mark with a 3.83 ERA lifetime against Chicago. In his first start of the season, Santana allowed one run in seven innings to beat Kansas City.