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White Sox realize Royals will be major threat with improved pitching

CHICAGO IL - APRIL 01:  Starting pitcher James Shields #33 Kansas City Royals delivers ball against Chicago White Sox

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 01: Starting pitcher James Shields #33 of the Kansas City Royals delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox during the Opening Day game at U.S. Cellular Field on April 1, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Updated: May 3, 2013 6:39AM

The White Sox don’t need pre-season predictions to know the Kansas City Royals will be a threat this season.

They already have been royal pains for the Sox for a long time — particularly in 2012, when the Sox lost 12 of the 18 meetings.

But Monday’s Opening Day 1-0 victory for the Sox and Chris Sale might have set a tone for what games will be like between these American League Central teams that are counting on strong starting pitching.

‘‘Dynamic pitching on both sides all day,’’ Royals manager Ned Yost said.

‘‘Sale was phenomenal. James Shields was phenomenal. The difference in the game was one high changeup. That was it.’’

Tyler Flowers homered on that changeup in the fifth inning.

‘‘The bullpens did a great job,’’ Yost said. ‘‘It was a cold day, but the pitching was pretty darn spectacular on both sides.’’

The Royals made pitching a priority in the offseason, making some of the most significant trades of winter.

They acquired Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays and Ervin Santana, who starts Wednesday, from the Angels.

The price tag was some of the Royals’ highly regarded prospects. But the message was clear.

‘‘When you add Wade Davis, Ervin Santana and James Shields to your staff, you’re talking about major, major upgrades,’’ Sox starter Jake Peavy said. ‘‘Wade Davis can flat-out pitch and just got lost in the shuffle in Tampa Bay. We know what Santana’s capable of. Obviously, Shields is a No. 1 starter.

‘‘Do that with the offense that these guys have, with Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. There’s not a whole lot of name recognition over there, but they’ve got guys who can really, really play, and they’re going to be right in the middle of things.’’

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