MESA, Ariz. -- Young White Sox hurlers Zach Stewart and Dylan Axelrod continue to make the long relief decision a tough one, with both turning in solid outings during Sunday's 7-5 victory over the Cubs in 10 innings at HoHoKam Park.
That decision could be tough enough where both pitchers end up joining Hector Santiago in claiming the club's final three bullpen slots.
"It could be two, but we have some guys who are pitching well and it's tough to look at them and know exactly what you're needing right now," manager Robin Ventura said after his first victory over the Cubs. "Both pitched impressively today. They have been getting stronger and better each time they go out."
Stewart got the start in Mesa with the White Sox not wanting to mess with Gavin Floyd's routine against inclement weather. He threw three innings, allowing two runs on six hits and fanning three.
Four of those hits and both runs came after Geovany Soto struck out to open the second.
"My first inning was real good," Stewart said. "Second inning, I got guys on and kind of rushed out of the stretch and I was leaving some balls up and got hit a little bit.
"Overall, I think I corrected it in that third inning. It's just stuff I'm working on, changeup, keeping the two-seam [fastball] down. Things like that. In the second inning, I rushed a little bit. It wasn't too big of a deal."
Axelrod retired all nine batters he faced, three via strikeouts, as some of the Cubs' regulars started to filter out of the contest. With Santiago a veritable lock to break camp with the team, Stewart and Axelrod figure to be in a battle with Brian Bruney, Eric Stults and even Nate Jones as a long-shot candidate to earn two relief vacancies.
Teams don't often like to judge pitching based on results in the Arizona climate. But in this instance, the best man in Spring Training certainly could lock down at least one of the spots.