"I'm really locked in on my changeup," said Quintana through translator and White Sox coach Lino Diaz. "I'm working on all areas, but the changeup is the concentration right now for me."
Quintana, 24, was an absolute revelation for most of the 2012 season, posting a 1.76 ERA in May and a 2.38 ERA in June as a rotation replacement for the injured John Danks. But even with an eight-inning effort in which the southpaw allowed one earned run against the Rangers and eight innings of shutout ball thrown against the Red Sox, Quintana's ERA jumped to 3.67 in July.
It only got worse in the final two months, with a 4.20 ERA in August and a 6.75 ERA in September. In Quintana's defense, his 185 innings thrown between the White Sox and Double-A Birmingham represented 83 more than he had ever thrown in a single season.
Fatigue definitely set in late, causing Quintana to get right back to work shortly after the 2012 season came to a close.
"I took a little break, but after that I went to work and always thinking about durability for this year and strength toward the end of the season," said Quintana. "I went cardio, then weights and started throwing a bit.
"My arm felt good, but I don't know if necessarily it was good, but I felt good. I'm just preparing mentally this year for a longer season, but last year was the first year I had a season like that."
Quintana needed a mere 39 pitches, of which 25 were strikes, to cruise through his Saturday outing. He went to a 3-1 count on Joey Votto in the first and went full on Jay Bruce in the second, but retired Votto on a groundout to second and struck out Bruce swinging.
He was satisfied with his work and command of pitches and he was happy that his hard work showed early results.
"We're all competing to win the division," Quintana said. "We're not competing with anything else."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.