3/25/2014 8:24 P.M. ET
Rotation set to alternate lefties, righties
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox have split up their left-handed starters and their right-handed starters according to the initial rotation announced by manager Robin Ventura on Tuesday.
Felipe Paulino will follow Chris Sale to the mound next Wednesday, while Jose Quintana completes the first homestand on Thursday against the Twins. Erik Johnson and John Danks are set to work the first two games in Kansas City, giving the White Sox one full turn.
People might be surprised by Paulino following Sale's second straight Opening Day appearance or Danks situated as the fifth starter. But Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper don't necessarily go by labels as much as they are trying to give the team its best chance to win every night. These assignments certainly will remain fluid throughout the course of the 2014 campaign.
"You are breaking up the lefties, but also the righties in there," Ventura said. "You feel solid with that. I think Johnny could be anywhere in there, right behind Chris."
Paulino hasn't pitched in a Major League game since June 2012 because of elbow and shoulder surgeries, Johnson is a rookie with five starts of big league experience and Danks is hoping to take a big step back to his more successful days at 20 months removed from arthroscopic shoulder surgery in August 2012. Even with those concerns, the White Sox look at this starting five as one of their strong suits.
"I feel good about them," said Ventura of his starting pitchers.
"Like Coop said, we have our No. 1 guy going every day," Sale said. "We have faith and trust in every guy."
Konerko's spot in final Opening Day lineup uncertain
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For the past 15 seasons, Paul Konerko has been in the White Sox Opening Day starting lineup. The last 13 have come at first base.
But even with Monday's contest against the Twins serving as the final Opening Day of his career, coming in front of the home faithful at U.S. Cellular Field, Konerko doesn't worry about getting the starting nod.
In fact, his comments stick to the spirit of how his part-time playing role has been developed.
"No, I shouldn't be, I don't think. I think it's a right-hander," said Konerko, referencing Ricky Nolasco making the start for the Twins. "I wouldn't think I would. It doesn't matter."
It "doesn't matter," as in Konerko never has been about those individual accolades.
Manager Robin Ventura said Konerko getting that final Opening Day start is a "possibility" and "being thought about." It's more than likely Konerko would take Adam Dunn's designated hitter's spot, with Jose Abreu at first base, if he received such an honor.
Dunn really hadn't thought about this particular situation until it was brought up to him Tuesday. He understands how both sides of the decision make sense.
"Obviously, he deserves to be," Dunn said. "Coming in, if he didn't know what kind of the situation was, I think it would be a bigger deal. Coming in he realizes what the situation is, but I would like to see him out there. Somehow, someway he probably will be at some point.
"I would sit. That's the thing, too. I hadn't thought about it, but if that situation came up, I would definitely have no problem doing it. He deserves it."
Konerko: Nieto equipped to make jump
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Adrian Nieto chose not to talk about his roster situation until the final White Sox moves are announced this weekend.
The response from manager Robin Ventura concerning the Rule 5 selection's chances wasn't quite as definitive as the Monday tweets from Nieto's agent, announcing that Nieto had made the team. But Ventura all but annointed Nieto as the backup to starting catcher Tyler Flowers.
"We've got a long way to go, but barring nothing strange, that would probably happen," said Ventura. "He's earned it. He's had a good spring, but we still have until Sunday, so stranger things have happened."
Ventura likes Nieto's receiving and game-calling abilities. He's not a finished product but certainly has impressed the White Sox with his development, even from the start of Spring Training.
Nieto will be making the jump from the Class A Carolina League to the Majors in one offseason. Paul Konerko was a Class A catcher in the Dodgers' system during both the '94 and '95 seasons and admits it would have been tough for him to make that jump.
"For me, there's a big difference. I stunk," said Konerko with a laugh of his catching days. "You have to take that into account. For me, it would have been really tough."
Count Konerko among those who believe Nieto will be able to handle the sizeable leap.
"Let's put it this way, whatever he was doing at A ball was a lot better than I was as far as a catcher, although I was a Cal League champion," said Konerko, who was 19 as a catcher vs. Nieto at 24. "When he plays in these games out here, he fits right in.
"So, I mean, that's what I see. It's definitely a big position. But he's got a lot of good energy, he can hit. Guys are much more advanced mentally now than I was or anybody was about knowing what it was like at the big leagues. It's much closer now for guys in A and Double-A and rightfully so, because guys are making it a lot quicker."
Beckham eyes opener, realistic about DL stint
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The work continues for Gordon Beckham in testing his strained left oblique. He hit in two different intervals on Monday and then hit again and took ground balls on Tuesday.
With just five days before Monday's regular-season opener against the Twins, the White Sox second baseman also has a greater understanding that starting the '14 season on the disabled list is a strong possibility.
"Everybody wants to ramp up to Opening Day, but the season is a long season, so you can't really look at it like that, unfortunately," Beckham said. "I wish you could play every game like that, but that's just one game out of 162.
"It's not fun, I mean, I spent a lot of time doing this last year, I don't enjoy it. But it is what it is and I'm trying to make the best of it and definitely feeling better every day, so that's a positive."
Beckham's trip to the disabled list can be back-dated to March 21, and he would be eligible to return on April 5 when the White Sox are in Kansas City. So even if Beckham can't get into a game to test his injury before the season starts, he shouldn't be gone long.
"Right now, it's just too early to tell if I'm going to be able to compete at the level I want to compete at," said Beckham. "I can go out there and compete, but if you feel a twinge in your side while you're facing big league pitching, it's not that easy. So, we'll see how today goes and hopefully, if it feels good, we'll play a game tomorrow or something.
"I'm just going to tell them how I feel. If I feel good enough to go, then we'll go on Monday. If not, I don't think it will be a prolonged stint."
Third to first
• Sale, who worked 3 2/3 innings in his final Cactus League start Tuesday leading into his second straight Opening Day start, likes what he sees from his team.
"We're ready to win, that's for sure," Sale said. "We saved up enough from last year.
"Hopefully, we can get a good run going early, and I know it's going to be cold up there, but it will be cold for the other team, too. Bring some energy and intensity and get after it."
• Quintana and Johnson will stay behind in Arizona to throw three innings or 50 pitches in bullpen sessions to stay sharp for their regular-season debuts. Quintana pitches Friday and then starts Thursday against the Twins. Johnson pitches Saturday and then starts Friday in Kansas City.
• Adam Eaton has reached base in 14 of his 17 Cactus League games this spring.