3 things from the Chicago White Sox, including first baseman Andrew Vaughn who is resting with back pain



Andrew Benintendi led off the bottom of the first inning of Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers by hitting a home run to right field.

It was the first homer of the spring for Benintendi, who joined the White Sox on a five-year deal in the offseason.

Jake Burger continued his strong spring at the plate, going 2-for-3 with an RBI in a 6-4 loss at Camelback Ranch. Both hits were singles.

Here are three more things from Saturday at Sox camp.

1. The Sox are erring on the side of caution with Andrew Vaughn, who is day-to-day with back soreness.

The Sox rested him at first base recently.

“Andrew is going to take a few days off,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “He had a lot of ABs — I think the last time I checked, he had (31) at bats. He played a ton.”

Vaughn last played on March 12 against the Los Angeles Angels. He is hitting .323 (10-for-31) with one double, one triple, one home run and four RBIs with two walks and three runs in 11 games.

Vaughn takes over at first base after José Abreu signed with the Houston Astros in the offseason. Vaughn spent most of his first two big league seasons as an outfielder.

“He’s in a good place,” Grifol said. “There’s no reason to push him through anything. I’m sure if you asked him if he could play, he would say yes. But we won’t push him through anything now. He had a great camp. He is comfortable at first base. We like where his swing is. He likes where his swing is, so we’re good.

2. Michael Kopech was consistent with his curveball in his second spring outing.

Kopech aimed for four ups on Saturday.

He accomplished that goal, even though he walked out after facing the first batter in the third inning. There was a short break. Kopech returned for the fourth, an option in spring training, and faced one more batter before ending the day.

Kopech allowed one unearned run on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks in 2⅓ innings.

“The main goal of (Saturday) was to get four runs, and I got that, happy to do that,” Kopech said. “Obviously it could have been a lot cleaner. I delved into the count repeatedly. I’d like to be a little more efficient. Clean up the first half and I could probably have a full third.

“I need to work on some things. Some things were there that I didn’t expect to be there, and some things that I expected to be there weren’t there. It was a day to feel some things. Overall, it was a good day of spring training.”

Kopech has seen good results with his curveball.

“I was trying to get more comfortable throwing the curveball, landing it in the zone,” he said. “In the game I didn’t feel very comfortable with him. The first half, it was pretty much the only thing he had some consistency with. Kind of funny how things are.

“I had to work on that and also be quicker at the plate. With the new rules and all, we’re going to have to find ways to control the run game a little bit. And I was probably a little too fast (Saturday), which is probably a good problem to have — to be able to slow down instead of having to rush.”

3. Reliever Gregory Santos’ “will to be big” impresses Pedro Grifol.

Santos faced four batters against the Cubs on Friday. He struck out every hitter.

“What impressed me the most, it’s not the 100 mph fastball, it’s not the slider that he throws for strikes for a high percentage, which is a good combination,” Grifol said of Santos’ spring. “His will to be great, that’s what impressed me the most.

“I talked to him once about times in the plate. I talked to him once about PFP and how you do this kind of work and how important it is to us. And I didn’t have to say it again. Every time you see him take a PFP, you see him watch it and treat it like I’m going to make an adjustment.”

Santos has allowed three hits and struck out eight in 5⅓ scoreless innings this spring. The Sox acquired the right-hander from the San Francisco Giants for minor league pitcher Kade McClure on December 22nd.

“Besides the 100-mph fastball with plus-plus movement, a slider that he throws for strikes, his will to be great was really impressive to me — and he’s a smart kid. A really smart kid,” Grifol said. “And versatility. He can pitch multiple innings and has the stuff to pitch any part of the game, not that we’re doing that right now, he’s a young kid. He is 23 years old. It was a great lift.”

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