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Chris Sale named White Sox’ Opening Day starter

Opening Day starter Chris Sale was rocked Saturday against A’s giving up five runs seven hits two walks five-plus innings.

Opening Day starter Chris Sale was rocked Saturday against the A’s, giving up five runs, seven hits and two walks in five-plus innings. | Mark Duncan~AP

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Updated: April 18, 2013 7:16AM

GLENDALE, Ariz. — To no one’s surprise, left-hander Chris Sale was named to start for the White Sox on Opening Day by manager Robin Ventura on Saturday.

Ventura’s announcement came after Sale had his worst outing of the spring. He allowed five runs, seven hits and two walks in five-plus innings.

“Just erratic control, kind of all over the zone,’’ Sale said.

Sale already was showered and gone by the time the announcement was made, but it’s known the All-Star who won 17 games last season and signed a $32.5 million contract extension last week coveted the assignment. He will turn 24 two days before Opening Day. Britt Burns was 22 when he got the nod in 1981, and Mark Buehrle was 23 in 2002.

Ventura had no misgivings about naming Sale after a shaky start.

“I’m not worried about that. He’s getting his work,’’ Ventura said. “Velocity-wise, everything is great. We’re getting toward the end of spring. He’s probably a little anxious to get going. We feel very confident with him going forward and giving him the ball for the first start.”

Jake Peavy is expected to follow Sale in the rotation.

Flowers sits again

Catcher Tyler Flowers missed a second consecutive day because of lower-back stiffness. Flowers said his back tightened up Friday morning.

“I think it might be sleeping funny or something, maybe a little dehydrated from that 107 [degrees] in Tempe [on Thursday against the Angels]. But [trainer] Herm [Schneider] is kicking my butt in there, so we should be back shortly.’’

While Flowers’ tone was optimistic, there is always cause for concern with back issues, especially for a catcher. Flowers tentatively is scheduled to start Sunday.

Ventura downplayed it.

“We’re trying to make sure everyone is ready in two weeks, not just for today,’’ he said. “He’s had a lot of time to play and we’ve been giving a lot of at-bats besides, so he’ll be ready to go.’’


So Dayan Viciedo, how is the leg-lift experiment going?

“I’m trying it slowly,’’ Viciedo said. “One step at a time. I want to try this and give it a good shot, but at the same time I want to stay original with my own swing as well. It’s something I’m adding but going slowly until I feel real comfortable.’’

Viciedo is trying a scaled-down version of assistant hitting coach Harold Baines’ lift. Hitting coach Jeff Manto suggested it to help his timing on offspeed pitches. Manto made it clear early on that if Viciedo didn’t like it he could scrap it.

“I plan to continue to try it but I want to give it time, take it slowly so the changes aren’t drastic,’’ Viciedo said through a translator.

“I feel better with every game that goes by,’’ Viciedo said. “I don’t get to play winter ball so this time is my time to really get ready and prepare for the season.’’

Viciedo launched an opposite-field liner to right center for a grand slam against the Cubs on Friday.

“When I concentrate on hitting the ball back through the middle and the other way I have really good power and my swings are more consistent that way,’’ Viciedo said.


FOR THE RECORD: A day after racking up 15 hits, the Sox banged out a spring-high 17 to improve to 10-7-3.

ON THE MOUND: On the day he was named the Opening Day starter, Chris Sale had his shakiest start of the spring. The two walks Sale allowed came in the A’s three-run second inning, but they likely wouldn’t have scored had shortstop Alexei Ramirez been quicker to a pop-up that fell in short left. Sale gave up a homer to clean-up man Josh Donaldson leading off the sixth. Manager Robin Ventura told Sale before the game he would start Opening Day, but Sale was coy with reporters after his outing. “That’s not a concern for me. It’s probably the farthest thing from my mind,’’ he said. “I got one goal in mind, and that’s preparing myself for Opening Day, the next day or three, four days after that. Wherever I fall in, I’m going to pitch.’’

AT THE PLATE: Catcher Hector Gimenez drove in three runs with a single and a triple, hiking his average to .500. Conor Gillaspie (.313) went 2-for-3 with a two-run double, and Dewayne Wise had two hits to raise his average to .286. Jordan Danks had a single, double and two RBI.

IN RELIEF: Matt Thornton walked one in a scoreless appearance (11/3 innings). Left-hander Donnie Veal pitched a perfect inning.

ON DECK: Following their practice of steering their regular pitchers away from AL Central opponents, the Sox will start Zach Stewart against the Royals (3:05 p.m.) while Jose Quintana pitches in a B game. Hector Santiago and Jesse Crain also are scheduled to pitch in the B game.

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