PHOENIX -- If you had the field when wagering upon whom might be the White Sox opening day starter, well, you lose.
For the second season in a row, the White Sox plan to run Chris Sale out to the mound when they open the 2014 season at home on March 31 against the Minnesota Twins. Manager Robin Ventura’s decision comes as no surprise as the two-time All-Star isn’t just the team’s best, most consistent, pitcher, but one of the best in the majors.
Sale, who went 11-14 with a 3.07 ERA in 214 1/3 innings and had 226 strikeouts, also was the team’s opening day starter in 2013.
“He would be unless physically he wasn’t able to do it,” Ventura said. “He’s our best pitcher, and I would say your first guy, your best guy, you always put out first. Just what he’s done in the past and what you expect him to do, he’s the logical choice. He deserves it.”
The left-hander followed Ventura’s announcement with a strong performance in his third start of the spring. He allowed two hits and struck out three without issuing a walk over 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a 6-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
“It’s cool,” Sale said. “It’s exciting. .... It was fun last year to go through that and experience that. So you know, looking forward to it again.”
Sale said improved slider command was the key to his outing. He threw it about the same as he did -- roughly a dozen times -- in his previous start when he gave up six earned runs.
But this time Sale’s slider was much sharper.
“Definitely wanted to work on location, command,” Sale said. “You know, my slider was a lot better than it was last time out. And that’s a key pitch for me and that’s something I really need to help me out. I was happy with what went on today. Just keep building up and keep moving.”