GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox starting rotation candidate Felipe Paulino has opened spring training under no restrictions despite not pitching in the major leagues since 2012 because of elbow and shoulder surgeries.
The White Sox committed $1.75 million to Paulino for the upcoming season with a team option for 2015, making him a favorite for one of the two open rotation spots after Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks -- if he can prove he is healthy.
“He’ll be throwing (Monday) and then he’ll have a day off and throw again, day off and throw again and then two days off and we’ll map out a course for him,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “I’m just kind of acquainting himself with him and see what he’s doing.
“I’ve already looked at video of him and will look at more video. I want to see when he was right, when he was healthy more than anything. He was healthy I think in 2011 for Kansas City. I want to see what he was doing.”
The 2011 season was the last one Paulino made it through in good health. He was in the midst of a breakout to start the 2012 season before suffering an elbow injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery. He was going through a minor league rehab assignment last season before the shoulder issues ended his year.
Cooper said he is learning about Paulino’s history through video of past performances and has already suggested an adjustment.
“I saw him throw (Saturday) and there were a couple of things I saw him doing that I don’t remember him doing, but I don’t know him well,” Cooper said. “The video I was sent I didn’t remember seeing it, so today I put it down that I'm going to look a Paulino video to acquaint myself with him more.”
Cooper has made a career out of resurrecting guys who struggled in previous organizations or are coming off injury like Paulino is doing. Guys like Jose Contreras, Esteban Loaiza, Bobby Jenks, Matt Thornton and Gavin Floyd have all rebounded to some extent under Cooper.
“Listen man, I like guys like that; I think we’ve done well with that,” Cooper said. “I think if you do well with enough of those it gives you a chance to keep your job. So yeah, I like that.
“We have to get him back to health and make any adjustments we need to make for him to be good. I always look at it as a puzzle. What’s he got, what are his strengths, what might we add in to make him a better end product? Hopefully we’ll put him in the position to have a good solid year, a career year.”
Despite the financial investment in the right-hander, manager Robin Ventura said he won't force Paulino into action.
"With him, you’re going to watch him in the spring," Ventura said. "I think he will dictate a lot of that by how he does down here, and with everybody else it’s pretty open. In talking to Coop about it and where they’re at, it’s hard to sit there and pinpoint where everybody is going to be.
"There are probably a few guys that we have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to be and how they’re going to go about it and where they’re going to be. For everybody else, this is an interesting spring of where they’re going to be and how we’re going to leave camp."