4/3/2014 8:15 P.M. ET
Konerko: Sox must improve vs. division in '14
By Joe Popely / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- It may be just the first series of the year, but so far, so good for the White Sox against the American League Central. Though the Twins are predicted to finish near the bottom of the division and are thus an opponent the White Sox may be able to beat consistently, they won't take any wins against division rivals lightly.
Especially not after last year, when the White Sox limped to a 26-50 record against the AL Central and an 8-11 record against Minnesota. The 50 losses within the division set a club record, so you can forgive the White Sox if they're celebrating the early success against the teams they'll see most frequently throughout the season.
"There are a lot of momentum changes because you play 19 games against every team," said White Sox captain Paul Konerko. "But it doesn't hurt to try and set the tone early and get on the board, because usually you're going to win your division or be competitive in your division. Even your worst matchups in the division you should be around .500 if you want to do that."
The White Sox didn't have a winning record against any division opponent last season, performing best against Kansas City (9-10), followed by the 8-11 record against the Twins, 7-12 against the Tigers and a dismal 2-17 against Cleveland.
"We've got to improve on that," said Konerko of playing more competitively within the Central. "I mean, Cleveland last year was brutal, so we'd like to be better against our division, which overall will make us better."
Relaxed Semien picks good time to bust slump
CHICAGO -- Marcus Semien broke out of his early-season slump in a big way Thursday against the Twins.
With the game tied and one out in the eighth, Semien stepped to the plate having started the year 0-for-13 and launched a 2-2 fastball from Minnesota reliever Caleb Thielbar past the Sox bullpen in left. The Sox wound up losing the wild, back-and-forth game, 10-9, but Semien was briefly the hero with what was a timely first hit of 2014.
"I was just trying to be a little bit more quiet and keep my head on the ball," Semien said. "I've been seeing lefties a little bit better since Spring Training, and they threw me a fastball middle in and I put a good swing on it and barreled it up."
Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Thursday's game he thought Semien was pressing a bit at the plate. Prior to the home run, Semien picked up his first RBI with a bases-loaded walk in the sixth after falling behind in the count, 1-2. Semien said that tough seven-pitch at-bat, in which he fouled off a couple of quality two-seam fastballs, seemed to relax him.
"In that situation, [I had] one out, runner on third, which I've had a lot of times and I didn't come through the last couple of times," he said. "So it felt good to get on base and get a run in at the same time."
Semien made a good bid for a hit Opening Day, when he rocked a Ricky Nolasco pitch into the left-center-field gap but was robbed of extra bases by left fielder Josh Willingham, who made an over-the-shoulder catch.
"That's why it's the big leagues, they make plays behind their pitchers just like we do," Semien said. "You've got to earn your hits."
Sox among teams learning replay procedure
CHICAGO -- Like any new system, the White Sox are working through the kinks of replay's early stages.
In the seventh inning of Wednesday's 7-6 win over the Twins in 11 innings, White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton caught a routine fly ball off the bat of Oswaldo Arcia but appeared to drop the ball on the exchange. Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire challenged the ruling, thinking Eaton may have bobbled the ball the whole way through.
Replays appeared to show that Eaton cleanly caught the ball and indeed dropped the ball on the exchange, which would have made Arcia the first out of the inning and kept Trevor Plouffe at first base. Replay instead overturned the call and ruled that Eaton dropped the ball and awarded Plouffe second base.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the Sox should have finished the play, as Eaton had plenty of time to get the ball into second for a force out while Plouffe trotted back to first assuming the ball had been caught.
"Your natural reaction is you go with how the call is, because that's how everybody grew up," Ventura said. "It's just changed. You have to get used to it, and they have to change their mindset on how they react to those situations.
"We talked about it. But it's like telling your kids something. They might not believe it until they actually see it or go through it. Now that it's happened, it's kind of waking everybody up how that call is going to be made and how the end of it is done."
The review took approximately five minutes. Gardenhire ended up removing starter Kevin Correia from the game because of the long layoff between pitches.
"If they go against us, yes, they are," Ventura said on lengthy reviews being bothersome. "But that's part of it, and we're going to have to deal with it. I'm sure every other sport that started replay it was an annoyance and now it's part of the game. In the end, it's to get calls right, and that's the main thing."
Third to first
• Second baseman Gordon Beckham will play in his first Minor League rehabilitation game for Double-A Birmingham on Thursday night. Beckham is recovering from a strained left oblique that bothered him much of Spring Training. He was placed on the disabled list March 30, with the move retroactive to March 21.
• Conor Gillaspie sat out his second straight game with flu-like symptoms on Thursday. Ventura said he was available to come in off the bench if needed.
"Today, just given the conditions and how he felt yesterday, it didn't feel right putting him out there," Ventura said.
• Adam Dunn hit his 442nd career home run Thursday, a two-run shot to right, tying him with Dave Kingman for 38th on the all-time list.
• First baseman Jose Abreu was twice walked intentionally Wednesday, becoming the first player to do so within his first two Major League games since 1955, when the stat was first tracked.
• The White Sox will wear a "DJR" patch on their uniforms in memory of David Reinsdorf, son of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who passed away unexpectedly on March 3.
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.