Different home opener experiences for Jones, Konerko, Ventura

Different home opener experiences for Jones, Konerko, Ventura
April 13, 2012, 6:23 pm
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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."