Different home opener experiences for Jones, Konerko, Ventura

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Different home opener experiences for Jones, Konerko, Ventura

Nate Jones received polite applause when he was announced during player introductions at U.S. Cellular Field Friday. Nobody went wild for the 26-year-old who hadn't pitched above Double-A before last weekend. He's the last pitcher out of the White Sox bullpen, someone who has an impressive fastball but has yet to make his mark in the majors.

Robin Ventura was introduced shortly thereafter to loud cheers. And about a minute after that, Paul Konerko was greeted with the loudest applause of any player introduced during the pageantry of the home opener -- like it'd be any other way.

Those three White Sox each had a different outlook on the day. Jones has never experienced a major-league home opener before. Ventura has, but never as a manager. And Konerko realizes he may not have many of these days left.

"Maybe you think about it a little bit more because you can always remember every opening day whether it's at home or on the road," Konerko explained. "So you kind of know you only have a handful left in you maybe so you pay a little more attention, but not too much."

At 36, Konerko has seen every White Sox home opener since 1999. But his contract with the White Sox only runs through 2013, and he realizes retirement may be right around the corner.

Ventura's seen plenty of home openers on the South Side. Although he hadn't heard his name introduced over the U.S. Cellular Field loudspeaker preceded by "manager" before.

"It's exciting," Ventura said. "I feel like I grew up here, so in a lot of ways it's a coming home of sorts."

But for Jones, along with fellow rookies Addison Reed, Hector Santiago and Eduardo Escobar, the day has added excitement.

"The Chicago fans are great and there's going to be a lot of them here," Jones said, trying to downplay his excitement. "There's going to be a lot of energy in the stadium for sure."

So while Jones may not admit he's enjoying this, Ventura knows the significance of the day is for the White Sox rookies.

"You see a kid like Nate Jones and Hector Santiago, guys that it's their first time for an opening day here. That's the special part that you get to enjoy."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Winter meetings trades for Cubs and White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Winter meetings trades for Cubs and White Sox

Hub Arkush (Pro Football Weekly/670 The Score) and David Schuster (670 The Score) joined David Kaplan on the SportsTalk Live panel for Thursday's show.

Baseball’s winter meetings are over. Could Rick Hahn have done more this week? Plus which closer will have a better season- current Cubs closer Wade Davis or former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman?

How much upheaval will there be on the Bears’ coaching staff this offseason? Plus are the Bulls in slump or are we finally seeing the real team show up?

Listen to this episode of the SportsTalk Live podcast here:

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'still thoroughly, deeply engaged' in trade talks as meetings close

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'still thoroughly, deeply engaged' in trade talks as meetings close

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The White Sox have a pair of relievers to dangle and have become increasingly busier with two of three free-agent closers off the board.

Prior to leaving the Winter Meetings on Thursday, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was asked if a pool of relievers including closer David Robertson and setup man Nate Jones had drawn much interest.

Having already traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, it’s believed the White Sox are willing to part with most anyone if the price is right. It sounds as if that possibility has improved after the Yankees’ late night signing of Aroldis Chapman on Wednesday, two days after the San Francisco Giants signed Mark Melancon. With only Kenley Jansen still left in free agency and due a big salary, Robertson, who has two years and $25 million left on his deal, could solve several teams’ relief needs. Jones is also a draw with potentially five years left on his current team-friendly deal, which includes two club options and one mutual option for 2021.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“We’ve had a lot of interesting conversations on a number of different fronts involving are players,” Hahn said. “And yes, we still have reliever pieces and starting pieces that are appealing to various teams throughout the league. I don’t think anything is going to happen between now and the time I go pick up my bags and head to the airport. But still thoroughly engaged, deeply engaged on a number of different fronts.”

Despite adding five pitchers and two position players through their first two moves, the White Sox still have a long list of desires. That list potentially includes a long-term starting catcher and another big bat among others.