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."

Tim Anderson's birthday present from home plate umpire was first major-league ejection

Tim Anderson's birthday present from home plate umpire was first major-league ejection

On his 24th birthday, Tim Anderson’s present from home plate umpire Jim Wolf was his first major-league ejection.

In the fifth inning of the White Sox 3-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics, Anderson fouled off a pitch that landed in the opposing batter’s box. But A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell picked it up in what was ruled to be fair territory and threw the ball to first for the out.

Anderson pleaded his case saying the ball went foul. Wolf agreed, according to Anderson, which only further confused the White Sox shortstop.

“I told him that was BS,” Anderson said. “And he tossed me.”

Anderson said that he was surprised to be ejected so fast. So was manager Rick Renteria, who was thrown out moments after Anderson.

“I don’t want to get in trouble,” Renteria said. “The players having emotion, they are battling. I just think we need to grow a little thicker skin.”

Anderson said that he was appreciative of his manager coming to his defense.

“He kinda had a point and let me know he had my back,” Anderson said of Renteria. “Speaks a lot of him.”

A day after scoring nine runs on 18 hits, the White Sox failed to generate any offense on Friday. The team’s best chance came in the ninth inning.

But with runners at the corners and two outs, Matt Davidson put a good rip on the ball to center field, only to fly out at the warning track.

Anderson and Renteria were watching the game together in the clubhouse, and both believed the White Sox had tied the ballgame.

“We all jumped up and were excited but it kind of fell short,” Anderson said.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Exclusive interview with Mark Buehrle

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Exclusive interview with Mark Buehrle

On the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien goes 1-on-1 with the star of the weekend, Mark Buehrle.

Buehrle tells an absolutely amazing bachelor party story and discloses why he wore No. 56.

Take a trip down memory lane and listen to the White Sox Talk Podcast here