Nestor Molina struggles in spring debut

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Nestor Molina will surely put this one behind him quickly.

The hard-throwing rookie right-hander struggled in his Chicago White Sox debut, allowing five runs on seven hits in 1 1/3 innings of relief in a 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in both teams’ Cactus League opener on Monday at Camelback Ranch.

There’s been plenty of intrigue surrounding Molina, who the White Sox traded straight up for closer Sergio Santos last November, as first-year manager Robin Ventura and veteran pitching coach Don Cooper have commented on his upside throughout the last two weeks.

“Some guys can struggle early,” Ventura said. “Still, I like his competitiveness and what he has when he goes out. He has a presence on the mound. He has good stuff. There’s no doubt about it. It’s ‘one of those days’ is how I look at it. First day, he’s trying to impress, but good stuff. He’s going to get more chances.”

Consider it a learning experience for Molina, who allowed a double to Justin Sellers, an RBI triple to Ivan De Jesus and a towering two-run home run to left field by Scott Van Slyke, all in the sixth inning.

But there were positives Ventura said he took from his first game on the job, including shortstop Alexei Ramirez's two-hit game and an overall sound defensive game.

“Defensively, I like what happened,” Ventura said. “You work on certain stuff and you see it happen out on the field and you’re happy about it.”

Ventura singled out the relay play from right fielder Kosuke Fukudome to second baseman Gordon Beckham to catcher Tyler Flowers, who tagged out James Loney at the plate to save a run with Molina on the mound in the fifth.

Other highlights included:

  • First baseman Jim Gallagher's over-the-shoulder diving catch in the eighth inning; Gallagher is battling for the 25th roster spot.

  • Designated hitter Dan Johnson, also up for that final position player spot, clubbed a home run to right in the ninth.

  • Left fielder Jared Mitchell, now recovered from a torn ACL he suffered in 2010, showed some explosiveness when he hustled for a double from a

    hit that bounced off second base.