5/4/2014 2:11 P.M. ET
Crosstown rivalry has changed, but still intense
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Paul Konerko and John Danks, the two most senior White Sox players currently on the roster, admit the Cubs/White Sox Interleague rivalry isn't quite what it once was.
Maybe that rivalry changed in 2003, when the Cubs came within five outs of reaching the World Series. It definitely changed when the White Sox swept Houston for the 2005 championship and city bragging rights.
"When I first got here [in 1999], the focus was -- I think some of our fans might have even felt that winning the season series against the Cubs almost is more important than making the playoffs, which is crazy," Konerko said. "That was kind of the sentiment: If you beat them, then we don't care about the rest.
"Just make sure you beat the Cubs. But I think as both teams made the playoffs a couple of times or we won the World Series, we had our sights set on bigger things, and so did they."
This Interleague battle begins again on Monday night, with two games at Wrigley Field, followed by two games at U.S. Cellular Field. The Crosstown Cup will be decided by May 8, which seems a little weird to those on the South Side.
"It shouldn't be in May. It should be in June or July," Konerko said. "That heightens it."
"You never know when it's the right time to have them, but you feel like the season is just really getting started and you're having this," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of the earliest meeting between these two teams. "It's fun. It might be good for us, at the right time."
The crazy atmosphere amidst these contests might have been knocked down a notch. But the Cubs vs. White Sox games still carry a different feel than any other game outside of the postseason.
"Obviously, you try to go about it like you would any other game," said Danks, who will pitch Wednesday. "It feels different when you roll into Wrigley and both fan bases are there and it's a fun game to play in. It really is. Hopefully, we do a little better this year."
"It's not exactly the playoffs, but it's not exactly regular-season games, either," Konerko said. "It feels different. Most players look forward to that, because it kind of gets you out of that rut of just playing games every single day."
Konerko ready for final turn at Wrigley
CLEVELAND -- Monday and Tuesday night games on the North Side of Chicago will hold a little extra meaning for White Sox captain Paul Konerko, aside from another final visit to an away ballpark. This ballpark just happens to be Wrigley Field, playing against the Cubs.
"Definitely it will hold a little more weight to me," Konerko said. "I just went to Texas for the last time and Colorado. You recognize that: I've been going to Texas every single year. Texas is a cool place. I like some things about Texas.
"But yeah, Wrigley will be more of a thing, you know, because it's in Chicago, it's Wrigley Field and it's a historic place, and I've had a lot of good games and because of this Interleague thing, there are a lot of memories. I'll definitely take it in a little more, that's for sure."
Konerko has played 34 games at Wrigley, with a career .311 average, seven homers and 26 RBIs. The White Sox captain, who is retiring after 16 years with the Sox following this season, has hit 20 homers and driven in 56 all-time against the Cubs.
"It is a really unique setting when you're out there playing, and there's a lot of history there and that's not lost on me," said Konerko of Wrigley. "I'm a fan of all that. I take it all in. I've been taking it all in since I've been going there, and it's a great place to hit when the wind is blowing out."
Sierra adds depth to White Sox bench
CLEVELAND -- Outfielder Moises Sierra officially joined the White Sox prior to Sunday's series finale in Cleveland, replacing left-handed reliever Frank De Los Santos on the active roster. De Los Santos spent one day with the White Sox before going back to Triple-A Charlotte.
Sierra, who will wear No. 25, gives the White Sox added bench depth after the team went with eight relievers and Leury Garcia, Adrian Nieto and Paul Konerko off the bench on Saturday.
"It's another piece," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Sierra. "With [Adam] Eaton going down, we're light in the outfield area. You can have Leury go out there, but it adds another piece to us, and being right-handed keeps us more balanced that way."
The right-handed hitting and throwing Sierra, 25, was claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays on Saturday. He has played 69 career games in right and three in left, but has never played center field.
Nieto settling in to Major League role
CLEVELAND -- Moving from the Carolina League to the Major Leagues in basically one offseason has not proven to be any sort of a problem for catcher Adrian Nieto, in the estimation of White Sox manager Robin Ventura.
"He's handled it fine. It is a big jump and a lot is thrown at him," said Ventura of Nieto. "He's calling a good game, he's doing everything you would want for a guy coming in basically as a backup.
"Offensively he has progressed a lot since Spring Training. When you're up here for this amount of time, his progression has been nice to see. It's been impressive."
Nieto, 24, picked up a career-high three hits in Friday's loss, along with his first RBI. He has made seven starts at catcher overall, all but one with John Danks on the mound, but could get more work as the summer heats up and the games add up.
"There will be more spots for him to be in there," Ventura said. "He's progressed to where if we need to get Tyler [Flowers] a blow for some reason you're able to throw him in there a little more than that."
Third to first
• Ventura mentioned that Adam Dunn could play left field at some point in the two games at Wrigley Field, with no designated hitter in the National League ballpark and Eaton on the disabled list.
Jose Abreu's glove flip to Scott Carroll at first on Lonnie Chisenhall's grounder in the sixth inning of Saturday's 2-0 loss, with the ball stuck in the glove, was not a first-time occurrence in Abreu's career.
"It happened to me in Cuba," said Abreu through interpreter and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "You have to react fast, and you have to do it in the best possible way.
"That happened so fast. There was not much I could do. I just threw the glove so we could make the out."
Carroll made the catch and play without a problem, leading to another Abreu highlight reel moment.
"I was kind of [surprised], because I didn't know it got stuck in his glove at first," Carroll said. "When he tossed his glove, I just laughed in my head and I wanted to corral it and made sure I got the glove for the out."
• Carroll became just the third pitcher in White Sox history to allow one earned run or less in each of his first two career appearances (both starts). Kip Wells (1999) and Fred Klages (1966) are the other two pitchers to accomplish such a feat.
"He knows how to pitch," said Ventura of Carroll. "It has been impressive to see him come in here and take a shot at it and grab a hold of it."
• Jeff Keppinger started 3-for-8 with a home run and two RBIs in his first two rehab games for Double-A Birmingham. Felipe Paulino allowed one earned run over two innings and 46 pitches in his first rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday.