TORONTO -- With four left-handed hitters in Toronto’s lineup, Donnie Veal is confident he’ll at least throw in the bullpen if not appear in Monday night’s game.
The event will carry more significance for the White Sox lefty reliever because it’s the first time he’ll have the opportunity to wear the No. 42 on his back, as both clubs celebrate Jackie Robinson Day in their series opener. Veal spent the entire 2009 season in the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates but didn’t pitch in the April 15 game that season. Even so, Veal said the chance to wear Robinson’s jersey is a big enough deal as baseball does its part to memorialize the Hall of Famer’s contribution to humanity.
“It’s a huge honor,” Veal said. “I feel it’s one little thing, not great, to show our appreciation for all the sacrifices he made for everyone, for society and baseball as a whole.”
Both Veal and reliever Deunte Heath attended a screening of the Robinson biopic ‘42’ last month in Arizona. Heath, a rookie who joined the club on Friday, said the day’s significance isn’t lost on him and agrees the movie is a great visual reminder of what Robinson endured.
“There’s a lot to be thankful for and it shows where the game came from,” Heath said. “He showed his cool and it showed the game came a long way.”
The movie was released last week and had the biggest ever opening for a baseball movie. He’s read several Robinson books but liked to see the story presented in a different way.
“It keeps it on your mind a little bit more than it would have been,” Heath said. “It gives you that reminder. It doesn’t just fade away in a couple of days, which is good. It needs to be honored and recognized.”
Rare and strange sight
Not only will the White Sox face longtime star Mark Buehrle on Monday, but Buehrle is only the second left-handed starting pitcher the team to oppose the team in 13 games this season.
Washington’s Gio Gonzalez pitched against the White Sox last Tuesday. White Sox manager Robin Ventura was asked whether it was strange to have seen so few left-handers thus far.
“It is odd,” Ventura said. “One, to not face that many lefties, and finally when you see one, it’s going to be somebody that is going to look weird in another uniform. I think for most of the guys here, you do that throughout your career, anyway. However, it’s different with Mark, having spent so much time being a White Sox. For me, I understand his place in our organization and history of wearing our uniform. It probably will be harder for Paul (Konerko) than anyone else.”