By Bruce Levine–
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — Hoping to bounce back from an injury-plagued past three seasons, left-hander Derek Holland made his spring debut for the White Sox on Thursday, working around two hits and two walks to throw two scoreless innings against the Giants.
The 30-year-old Holland used to be a key rotation member on Rangers teams that reached the World Series in 2010 and 2011, and he’s trying to get back to a similar level of performance after shoulder issues changed the course of his career in the ensuing years.
Holland’s body of work convinced the White Sox to sign him to a one-year deal this past offseason after he started 22 games last year with the Rangers. The team believes he still has something left in the tank and hopes he can fill the innings void left by the trade of ace left-hander Chris Sale to the Red Sox.
Holland doesn’t worry about his injury issues of the past and has been working closely with pitching coach Don Cooper.
“I am past that,” Holland said. “You (the media) are the only ones that keep bringing that up. I have turned the page on that. You cannot focus on the past. You must concentrate on the present. Overall, I feel very strong, very good. I have had a lot of good work Coop. The training staff and conditioning guys have been fantastic. They have helped me get where I need to be.”
Holland was happy to get back into game action Thursday, even if he struggled with his control.
“I felt very good,” Holland said. “Obviously I was anxious getting out there with a new team, with new catchers. I thought we did a good job out today. We were definitely working on some more stuff in the second inning. I had not thrown enough change-ups in the first inning. I told (catcher Omar Narvaez) we needed to work more in. The only disappointment was the walks to the left-handed hitters. That is usually a strength of mine.”
Holland was 7-9 with a 4.95 ERA and 1.41 WHIP last season.
“If you look at the past three years with injuries, each time I have gotten better,” Holland said. “You must continue to move forward. I am very happy how I feel.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.