CHICAGO -- Nearly two years since he last pitched in a major league game, Felipe Paulino was understandably feeling his way around in the dark.
The offseason free-agent acquisition, who had Tommy John surgery and a shoulder procedure since his last big league outing, was savvy enough, however, to limit the damage, even if he wasn’t very efficient.
Paulino lasted just 5 1/3 innings, throwing 109 pitches for the Chicago White Sox, but he only gave up two runs to the Minnesota Twins. He loaded the bases in the second inning with one out, then proceeded to walk in a run. But he wiggled out of a potential major issue. From there he seemed to settle into a comfort zone.
“Yeah, I mean this game is about adjustments,” Paulino said. “Second inning, I threw a lot of pitches, but I think I see in that inning how they’re coming to me, the Twins. And after that I made my adjustment and was pretty decent after that. Making my good pitches, mix it up a little bit what they’re looking for.”
Paulino was a surprise No. 2 starter when the season began, but that was more about not wanting to pitch left-handers Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks in succession. Quintana will make his 2014 debut Thursday.
Paulino's spring wasn’t dominating, but he did manage to throw strikes -- and will try to get back to that in his next scheduled start next week at the Colorado Rockies.
“Five innings is too short for me, but I’m looking for more,” he said.
Never more than a journeyman before getting off to a blazing fast start in 2012, Paulino seems confident he can once again be the pitcher that had a 1.67 ERA in his first seven outings that year. He might not have the same arm after Tommy John surgery, but he might not have to completely reinvent himself.
“It was good,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Command-wise, he threw a lot of pitches, so you want to cut down on that. Competitive-wise he was good. We got what we needed out of him, but just the high pitch count got him out of there and, after that, command became an issue for us.”
Ultimately, it might not have turned out like Paulino dreamed about, but he kept things close until the middle innings and the White Sox were able to rally and win it in the 11th inning.
“In the end, no matter what, we won the game,” he said. “I’m happy to be back again to the major leagues and do my work. I’m excited to be back to the game, to give the opportunity to the White Sox to win the game. And, in the end, we win. It was a long game, but we win.”