Paulino close to putting it all together

Paulino close to putting it all together

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The velocity is there for Felipe Paulino, especially for his second Cactus League start Friday in a 4-3 victory over the Reds. He feels healthy, a point Paulino can't stress enough.

Now, the right-hander has to work on execution, an aspect that eluded him in his debut against the Rangers last Sunday but improved during his three innings at Goodyear Ballpark.

"Compared to the first time, I feel better. My pitches are coming great," said Paulino, who allowed three runs on four hits but struck out five. "I threw all my pitches today in any count. The only thing is, I need to throw the pitch in the right moment. The only way to fix that is in a game, [when] you face a hitter."

Jay Bruce belted a mammoth two-run shot off the White Sox starter in the first on a 1-1 offering, but Paulino came back to retire Bruce on a grounder to Gordon Beckham in the third. Paulino fanned Joey Votto and Ryan Ludwick two times apiece.

Paulino has not pitched in the Majors since 2012 due to ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery in July of that year and having a cyst removed from his shoulder last September, but he seems to be close to a lock for the White Sox rotation. He could even open as the team's second starter.

But manager Robin Ventura pointed out Friday that pretty much everyone is competing for a roster spot at this point of camp.

"You can't just hand one to somebody to come down here and not do anything to earn it," Ventura said. "Everyone understands where they're at, but you still have to show you deserve a spot in the rotation.

"Early on, I thought he was up in the zone. Then, the last inning, he was a little down in the zone, where he was a little more effective down there."

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.