Cooper remains high on Quintana

CHICAGO – Pitching coach Don Cooper used the power of positive thinking Saturday, one day after Jose Quintana struggled in his debut outing of 2013.

Whether the White Sox would see the good Quintana from the first of 2012 or the bad Quintana from the second half was one of the hot topics of the spring. His second-half struggles clouded the fact that his 3.76 ERA over 25 outings (22 starts) of his debut season was an impressive accomplishment.

But on Friday against the Seattle Mariners, his inability to retire any of the seven batters he faced in the fifth inning left him with an outing where he gave up six runs (five earned) on eight hits. Second-half Quintana seems have followed him into this year.

“The second half of last year means nothing; it means nothing,” Cooper said Saturday morning. “Listen, this kid last year, if you remember, came from basically A-ball, he had two weeks in Double-A, pitched his (tail) off and as the year went on his innings total got as high as it has ever been.

“There is a big difference from throwing 140 innings in the major leagues and 140 innings in the minor leagues. There’s no rest in the lineup.”

The 24-year-old’s relative inexperience showed Friday night when he melted down after making an error on a play at first base. The miscue was one thing, but he compounded things by grooving pitches in an effort to get ahead in counts with runners on base.

He remains a work in progress for Cooper, but the veteran pitching coach is far from suggesting that Quintana is going to have trouble figuring out things.

“All I look at from last year is where do we need to go, what do we need to improve on, how do we round out a guy’s game and continue to put a guy in a good direction career wise and success wise?” Cooper said. “It’s like spring training, (last year) means nothing.

“In the moment right now, we just have to keep trying to make more pitches and obviously a little roller like that to first base, that has to be an out. It’s a gimmie out in the major leagues and we have to get that one. But listen, it’s his first full year in the major leagues and he has a challenge ahead of him.”