By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — The Jose Quintana sweepstakes have ebbed and flowed since the White Sox made it be known that they were moving their best players as they embarked on a rebuild.
As rumors have swirled, Quintana has gone about his business as a professional. Recently that included a strong outing for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic before it was eliminated. Quintana called the experience a “different feeling” and “fun.”
Now, he’s awaiting word on whether he’ll be the Opening Day starter for the White Sox? So far, the team hasn’t confirmed that assignment yet.
“It is coming up soon,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Maybe a week. It’s coming, and I think these guys all know where we are at. We will soon share with them, and we will let you (the media) have it.”
The 28-year-old Quintana has the resume to be the new White Sox ace after the December trade of left-hander Chris Sale to the Red Sox. The catch is he isn’t expected to be around for the long haul, with nobody certain of when he’ll be dealt for a handful of young prospects. The White Sox have made it clear Quintana is available for the right price, as they desire to replenish their farm system with depth.
“I never pay any attention to that,” Quintana said of trade rumors. “I just keep my focus on spring training. That is all I have control over. I don’t pay attention to that. I just play for my team.”
Quintana was masterful against Team USA in the first round of the World Baseball Classic, allowing just one hit in 5 2/3 scoreless innings before the Americans beat Colombia in extra innings. The audition was unnecessary for big league scouts who already know his skill set, but it proved he’s already sharp this spring.
“When you have that uniform on for the first time, it is special,” Quintana said. “It was especially good facing the United States. I really enjoyed the time there.”
Quintana has reached the 200-inning, 32-start plateau in each of the past four seasons, and he boasts a career 3.41 ERA. Since 2012, Quintana has received the least run support of any starting pitcher, with his 59 no-decisions the most in the majors in that time frame.
For rotation teammates like Miguel Gonzalez, Quintana is the man on the White Sox staff.
“He is a hard worker, he is a horse,” Gonzalez said. “His mentality is something that I learn by. He is our No. 1 starter, and he will show it again this year. I learn as I go watching him pitch. The way he commands the ball and minimizes damage, it is impressive.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.