Opening Day in Major League Baseball is one of most spectacular sights in all of sports. The introductions, the large crowds nation-wide and the fact that baseball will be played once again. As a former baseball player, nothing gets the blood pumping more than that first game. When you add in all the work put in during the off-season along with all the anticipation, the first pitch cannot come soon enough.
The Chicago White Sox begin their 115th season on Monday afternoon at home against the Minnesota Twins. Monday will be the first time the Sox open a season against the Twins since 1993, when “Blackjack” Jack McDowell picked up the win in a 10-5 Sox victory in Minneapolis.
Fast-forward to 2014, and a different type of Sox ace will take the mound. Chris Sale gets the ball and his second consecutive start on Opening Day. Sale was stellar last season in last season’s opener against Kansas City as he struck out seven Royals in 7 2/3 innings pitched in a 1-0 win.
The Sox finalize their 25-man active roster by making a few moves on the eve of the opener. The biggest news of the day was probably the announcement of Paul Konerko not starting on Opening Day.
Paul Konerko was offered the start. He declined because it goes against the plan.
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesCSN) March 30, 2014
Konerko, 38, will begin his final season in a White Sox uniform on Monday, on the bench.
“There is a plan of roles and when guys play and when they don’t play. You just follow it,” Konerko said on Sunday. This game tomorrow, although it’s Opening Day, if I’m not going to start the 20th game against Ricky Nolasco, or whoever is on the mound, then it doesn’t matter that it’s the first game. I’m always aware of Opening Day, I think everybody is. I can remember them all, all that kind of stuff. But I’ve also been lucky to start 16 of them, 15 here and one somewhere else. So I’ve had my day in the sun with Opening Days.” -Paul Konerko/CSNChicago.com
Along with Konerko not starting on Monday, the Sox officially put infielders Gordon Beckham and Jeff Keppinger on the 15-day disabled list to begin the season. Beckham suffered a strained oblique on March 15th and Keppinger is still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.
The Sox made a pair of moves that will reflect down on the farm in Triple-A Charlotte. Omar Poveda was sent to the Washington Nationals in exchange for cash. The move was most likely made because of reliever Mitchell Boggs agreeing to a minor-league deal with the Sox and Charlotte, according to CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes.
Monday afternoon begins a long 162-game journey for most of baseball’s 30 organizations. Whether you’re a 66-to-1 favorite to win the World Series (per Bovada Official) like the Sox are, or beginning a title defense like the Boston Red Sox are, Opening Day is a special time for every team in baseball.
(And remember Sox fans, if you’re heading to U.S Cellular Field tomorrow, get some ice cream. It’ll take you all nine innings to finish.)