PHOENIX – He was the first player associated with the Houston Astros’ cataclysmic cheating scandal to step up and apologize.
That happened in late January at SoxFest.
When he arrived at spring training a few weeks later, Dallas Keuchel again said he was sorry, this time with a bit of an edge.
“Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to show remorse or try to move on,” Keuchel said. “I chose the remorse route because, personally, I felt that was what was owed. I felt like I owed it to my family, and that’s how I was raised.
“We’re always going to be World Series champs because we were talented and, to me, we earned the right to be World Series champs. Just because stuff came out about the 2017 Astros doesn’t mean other teams weren’t doing illegal stuff. It just means we were the ones that were caught.”
Keuchel likely is going to be asked the Houston question again when the White Sox open the regular season with a March 26 home game against the Kansas City Royals. He’ll likely give similar answers, with an emphasis on moving on.
The distraction surrounding Keuchel being a member of Houston’s now-tainted 2017 championship team has been pretty minimal around Camelback Ranch, and he’ll eventually be judged by his performance as a new starting pitcher in the Sox’s rotation.
The overwhelming feeling is Keuchel is going to get high marks.
“Dallas adds a little balance to the rotation because he’s obviously not a pure power guy and he’s left-handed,” said general manager Rick Hahn, who signed Keuchel off the free-agent market in December with a three-year, $55.5 million contract.
“He’s a veteran who’s been in the postseason [four] of the last five years and has a very cerebral approach to how he gets hitters out. So I think he’s going to have an impact by being that veteran force every fifth day.
“But it’s going to extend beyond that in terms of sort of a mentorship type role or a go-to type guy for the young pitchers as they continue to grow and aspire to be Cy Young contenders like he was.”
Keuchel won the Cy Young in 2015 and also was fifth in American League MVP voting after going 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA.
Best known for his ability to get groundballs in bunches, Keuchel sat out the first three months of the 2019 season before signing a one-year, $13 million deal with the Braves. In 19 starts for Atlanta, he was 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA.
With a full spring training this year, Keuchel won’t have to scramble to get into a groove.
“That’s going to kind of give me a little bit of a boost,” he said. “It’s fun for me to be out here. Just being around the guys early and knowing the things that are going to go on and waking up in the morning and getting here early and watching some video and having breakfast with the guys, it’s what it’s all about.”
On the mound, Keuchel is all about keeping hitters off balance with his changeup and getting them out with his sinker. His fastball sits around 90 mph, which is just fine with the 32-year-old pitcher.
“I have no idea about velocity,” Keuchel said with a laugh.
He has a very good idea about how to pitch.
“He can work to both sides of the plate,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “He keeps the ball down, sinks it. His cutter can be very effective against righties, he’ll backdoor you. We’re going to take advantage of that, and thankfully he’s with us.”