CHICAGO -- Kevin Hickey, the popular White Sox batting practice pitcher, took ill in Texas and remains hospitalized there while undergoing undisclosed tests.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura mentioned Hickey's situation, without mentioning his name, when he was questioned about the good part and the tough part of managing before Friday's home opener.
"We've got a guy on our staff that's in the hospital. That's hard," Ventura said. "That's stuff you deal with that is harder than just normal baseball stuff."
Morel not pressing despite slow offensive start
CHICAGO -- The two hits in 19 at-bats and eight strikeouts for Brent Morel through six games don't exactly have the young White Sox third baseman in a state of panic.
In fact, Morel knows there will be other slumps of this same nature over the course of a 162-game season. This one just happens to draw a little more attention at the outset.
"You can be hitting .800 after three games or .000," Morel said. "It's just kind of over the course of the year you are going to average out what you are capable of doing. It's just a matter of time.
"I just had a bad couple of games there. It all kind of piled up quick. It's just kind of the way it is."
Morel made a little adjustment with his swing before the last game in Cleveland. And while he finished 0-for-3, he was still able to get on base and score three times. Morel was 1-for-3 with an RBI in Friday's 5-2, home-opening victory over Detroit.
One certainty is that Morel's slight back issue, which first emerged during Spring Training, is not hampering him at all through the season's first week.
"No, it's just kind of preventive right now," Morel said. "It has been feeling really good. It bothered me in Spring Training a little bit, but I haven't felt anything since."
"You get excited the first week," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, explaining Morel's struggles. "You want to maybe do a little more than you should. He'll be fine. He's a good player and I know he'll be fine."
Crain, Thornton crucial to early matchups
CHICAGO -- In setting up the White Sox bullpen, general manager Ken Williams said Friday that the coaching staff and front-office personnel were in agreement on one thing: They wanted Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton available for the eighth inning and maybe the seventh inning on some occasions.
"We all know in a game that [the] ninth inning doesn't necessarily mean you're going to have the toughest hitters up," Williams said. "The situation to win the game might be in the seventh or the eighth inning, so to have those guys available and interchangeable for that kind of fit everything together."
After that decision was made, the final call came down between rookies Addison Reed or Hector Santiago for closer. Santiago's screwball to combat right-handed hitters from a left-handed pitcher helped his cause, as did his 95-mph fastball.
"Aggressiveness, and he can spot it from both sides of the plate and then turn it over with a changeup and then the screwball that you can't really practice," said Williams of Santiago. "And if you only see it on occasion, it can really screw you up.
"So, I think we were all privately thinking that. Then when we came together for a meeting and the subject was brought up, no one was caught off guard or surprised. So we just kind of came to the deal together."Santiago picked his third save in three chances during Friday's 5-2 victory over the Tigers, striking out two in the ninth inning. Reed made his fourth consecutive scoreless appearance and Thornton made his fifth consecutive scoreless appearance.
Early tilts not a true barometer against Tigers
CHICAGO -- Gordon Beckham presented a one-word answer when asked Friday if the American League Central favorite Tigers were a good early test of the White Sox mettle.
"No. It's five games in," said Beckham, prior to his team's 5-2 victory over the Tigers. "They are playing pretty well and so far so are we. At Game 82, ask me that question. I think that's about where you got to figure it out."
White Sox captain Paul Konerko doesn't view Detroit in a different light in comparison to last year's division champion. But appreciates how the Tigers developed over the course of 2011.
"Last year's team really came together at the end of the year and took it to another level as far as the level they were at and what they did in the playoffs," Konerko said. "A little break here and there and they would have been in the World Series and who knows where that would have gone.
"They added a couple guys coming into the year but no doubt before that, they put themselves in a different category at the end of last year. The whole year they were kind of just doing OK and then the last couple months they really turned it up a notch and you tip your hat at that and respect that for sure. There's no doubt the division goes through them."
Ventura hosts acting partner at home opener
CHICAGO -- The home-opening, 5-2 victory for the White Sox on Friday was a special day for Robin Ventura, who returned to U.S. Cellular Field as a triumphant manager. It also was a memorable day for Emily Beazley, a special guest of Ventura.
Robin met Emily in December when Ventura flew in from California so they could make their appearance in A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre. Beazley, who is nine years old, is a Chicago native and a strong White Sox supporter. She had been recently diagnosed with Stage 3 non-hodgkin's lymphoma and her appearance in A Christmas Carol with Ventura was part of the Goodman Theatre's partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation
On that same night of their theatrical debut, Ventura invited Emily and her family to the home opener. Ventura arranged for a limo and suite tickets for Emily's family to enjoy the victory.
Third to first
Robin Ventura became the sixth consecutive White Sox manager to win his home debut at U.S. Cellular Field via Friday's 5-2 victory over Detroit. Ventura joins Don Cooper (2011), Ozzie Guillen (2004, Jerry Manuel (1998), Terry Bevington (1995) and Gene Lamont (1992).
The White Sox snapped a six-game losing streak to the Tigers on Friday. The Tigers swept two three-game sets in September last season.
Jake Peavy snapped a five-game losing streak at home Friday and improved to 18-13 with a 4.44 ERA in 41 games (40 starts) with the White Sox.
A.J. Pierzynski has seven RBIs over his last three games.
Dayan Viciedo snapped a 116 at-bat homerless drought with his long ball off Max Scherzer in the fifth inning Friday..