Happy Opening Day! It's White Sox vs. Twins in the first game of the 2014 season, with coverage beginning with White Sox Pregame Live at 2 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.
After a long, brutal, just generally terrible Chicago winter, baseball is back today with the White Sox squaring off against Minnesota at U.S. Cellular Field. It's supposed to be a mild, windy day with temperatures climbing into the 60's, but with wind gusting to 45 miles per hour.
On the mound: Chris Sale vs. Ricky Nolasco
This'll be Sale's second straight Opening Day start, and his first opportunity to build off what's been a fantastic two years as a starter. Since moving to the White Sox rotation in 2012, Sale has a sparkling 3.06 ERA with five complete games, 418 strikeouts and 97 walks in 406 1/3 innings pitched. In 41 innings against the Twins over his four-year major league career, Sale has a 2.20 ERA with 41 strikeouts.
And consider this: Only 13 pitchers have struck out perennial Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer at least six times in his decade-long career. Sale is one of those pitchers, despite facing him just 19 times. Only C.C. Sabathia (19 strikeouts in 52 PA) and Ryan Dempster (seven strikeouts in 13 PA) have had more success whiffing Mauer than Sale.
For the Twins, big-ticket free agent righty Ricky Nolasco will make his debut after signing a four-year, $48 million deal this offseason. He has good sink on his fastball and mixes in a splitter, slider and curveball, though he doesn't generate as many ground balls (43 percent last year) as his arsenal would generally indicate. Splitting time between Miami and Los Angeles last year, Nolasco posted a 3.52 ERA, tied for a career best.
Opening Day headlines
They said it
"I think it’s just the way it should be. It’s not part of the blueprint of what we’re going to do here. No emotion just want is right is right. That’s just the way I see it. If there was a lefty throwing today or tomorrow, I’d probably play." -- Paul Konerko on not starting Opening Day
"I asked my mother to pick a number for me, a number that would remind me of her all the time. She picked 79, so that's something I carry with me very special." -- Jose Abreu on why he wears No. 79
"I hope we surprise in a better way than we did last year. But you go through spring training and you see all these guys -- we're very young, we're more athletic than we were last year in different spots, we have some versatility that we didn't have. There's going to be some growing pains just because we're young but that doesn't mean we can't win." -- Robin Ventura on the outlook for the 2014 White Sox