Liner to face least of Troncoso's concerns

Ramon Troncoso last pitched in the major leagues with the Dodgers in 2011. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/ US Presswire

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It only takes a casual look at the potential Chicago White Sox roster to realize that non-roster reliever Ramon Troncoso is going to have a tough making it to Chicago for Opening Day.

That's fine with the right-hander, who has four years of major league experience with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

You want challenges? Troncoso has been through them and getting hit in the face with a line drive during winter ball last month was simply the latest.

As an unheralded pitcher in spring training for the Dodgers in 2008, Troncoso forced his way onto the Opening Day roster, primarily with a plus fastball. He was eventually send down, but called up again in June and was a member of the club's playoff run that year.

In 2009, he put together his best season with a 2.72 ERA in 73 outings and was again a key component of a Dodgers team that went to the postseason.

Then came 2010. Troncoso was used in 16 of the first 24 games and then struggled so badly after that, he was back in Triple-A by July. In 2011, there was more time in Triple-A, then a productive stretch in the major leagues, but a handful of poor outings that led to a 6.75 ERA.

After a full season at Triple-A in 2012, Troncoso is getting a new start after signing a minor-league contract with the White Sox.

"I don't think it will take long to get used to things," said Troncoso, who turns 30 on Saturday. "It's the same (spring training) complex, just different sides. I think I will have more fun on this side."

It was just a few weeks ago when there was some concern as to whether Troncoso's White Sox stint was over before it started.

In a game in the Dominican Republic, Troncoso had no time to react to a line drive back at him. It hit him on the lower right side of his mouth, knocking out four lower teeth in the process.

"It wasn't too bad," Troncoso said without a hint of irony. "I thought it was going to be worse when the ball hit me. But in a week I was ready again."

He says he has no fear of getting back on the mound. If that's the price to pay to do something he loves then it's perfectly fine with him.

Perhaps Troncoso's most honorable trait is his toughness. He'll need it to break into a bullpen that seems set with arms like Addison Reed, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton, Matt Lindstrom, Nate Jones, Donnie Veal and a likely long man of Hector Santiago.

Troncoso doesn't care about those kind of odds. He says he feels as good as ever now and is ready to return to his 2009 form for a team he believes is better than the pundits are projecting. Troncoso said he had the option of deciding between five teams this winter and the White Sox had the best chance of putting together a winning season.

"I'm just going to come in and do my best," he said. "Everything is perfect and better than the year before. I worked hard during the offseason."