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White Sox's Josh Phegley starts strong

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The White Sox Josh Phegley (right) is greeted by third base coach Joe McEwing after Phegley's home run off Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza in the third inning Monday at U.S. Cellular Field. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO – White Sox catcher Josh Phegley already has checked off most of the notable big league firsts through his first two games in the majors.

During two weekend starts at Tampa Bay, Phegley recorded his first career hit, RBI and run scored as well as a home run that came against former Cy Young award winner David Price. On Monday against the Cubs, Phegley homered again – off Matt Garza – in his U.S. Cellular Field debut. He started behind the plate and batted eighth.

Phegley, who is originally from Terre Haute, Ind., which is about three hours from the ballpark, expects plenty of family will come watch him play in the coming weeks. The offensive production at Triple-A Charlotte from the 25-year-old former first- round draft pick prompted the Sox to bring Phegley to the majors hoping he can provide a boost in a struggling lineup. He hit .316 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs in 61 games at Charlotte.

“Just starting off so well in Charlotte and having a good season to begin with kind of took the pressure off me to kind of just keep playing my game,” Phegley said. “Whenever the call came, I would be ready. I had a great year down there and I wanted to keep it rolling and not really think about getting the call too much. Now that I’m up here hopefully I can help this team win.”

Phegley said he wasn’t too surprised when the Sox called him up Friday. Manager Robin Ventura plans to split playing time equally between Phegley and Tyler Flowers.

“I think I put together a good year and kind of felt it coming,” Phegley said. “I was getting a little anxious. … We were on a two-day trip to Gwinnett and I didn’t have much of anything with as far as clothes or anything. I hopped on the plane down to Tampa with what little I had and had to hit the ground running.”

Crain progresses: Reliever Jesse Crain (right shoulder strain) says his throwing shoulder is pain free after going on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday.

Crain said his right shoulder was still sore through Saturday, but he believes he’s ready to start strengthening it before beginning baseball activities. This is the third time since 2009 Crain has experienced a shoulder strain. It will prevent him from participating in the All-Star Game on July 16 at Citi Field in New York.

“My arm just gets tired, and when that happens, unfortunately, I strain it,” Crain said. “Obviously, I’ll know more how it feels when I actually get out there and play catch.”

Scheduling quirk: Monday’s home game represented a logistical complication for the Sox amid a stretch of nine road games in 10 days heading into the All-Star break.

Monday was originally an off day, but their makeup game against the Cubs forced a one-day stop in Chicago after a three-game series in Tampa Bay. To top it off, the Sox face their division rival Detroit Tigers for the first time this season on Tuesday. After their three-game series in Detroit, the Sox play Detroit 16 times after the All-Star break.

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