For Jose Quintana, it has been a tale of two spring trainings this year.
The 25-year-old White Sox starting pitcher probably would like to forget the first month or so of camp, and Quintana undoubtedly would like to erase the memories of his first 4 Cactus League starts, when he allowed 20 earned runs on 17 hits and 7 walks in 6 innings.
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In a March 18 outing against the Oakland Athletics, Quintana failed to retire a hitter in the first inning and was charged with 9 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks.
Was the left-hander hurt? Were his mechanics just completely out of whack? Was there some kind of off-the field problem?
As the questions mounted, Quintana bounced back with a quality start Sunday, allowing just 1 hit over 5 scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies.
Monday was another good day, as Quintana and the Sox agreed on a five-year contract that could be worth as much as $26.5 million if he's eligible for salary arbitration at the end of the upcoming season. If not, the deal is worth $21 million.
Either way, both sides are happy with the contract, which also includes two club option years.
"It's a good contract for me," Quintana told reporters Monday. "My family is safe now, my future. I want to stay here. I like the Chicago White Sox, and they had a good opportunity for me for my first year in the big leagues. I'm so excited for this moment."
Talks between the two sides started earlier in camp, and White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said the contract became a distraction for Quintana, a big reason why he was struggling in his first 4 exhibition starts, particularly against the A's last week.
"That's a lot for someone to handle," Hahn said. "As I'm sitting there watching him get hit around and not be his normal self, I'm thinking: 'This one's on me. I should send refunds to whoever attended that game.' "
The Sox signed Quintana as a free agent before the 2012 season. Over the last two years he is 15-13 with a 3.61 ERA.
Quintana was 9-7 with a 3.51 ERA last season, when he set an American League record with 17 no-decisions. He also pitched 200 innings.
"Jose quickly has established himself as a quality major-league starting pitcher, and along with Chris Sale, we expect him to be an important piece of our rotation for the foreseeable future," Hahn said. "Jose brings a tremendous work ethic and professionalism to his approach, and he is well respected by his teammates, so we are excited to be able to reward him for what he has accomplished thus far in his career and possibly keep him in a White Sox uniform for the next seven seasons."
Manager Robin Ventura said the five-man rotation is likely to be set Tuesday.
Sale is the obvious ace, and he will be on the mound against the Minnesota Twins in Monday afternoon's season opener at U.S. Cellular Field.
Quintana is likely to follow Sale, but the rest of the order is tricky. John Danks would be a good bet as the No. 3 starter, but he is left-handed like Sale and Quintana.
Right-hander Erik Johnson could move up to the No. 3 spot, followed by Danks and right-hander Felipe Paulino.