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White Sox pitcher Chris Sale gets nod for Opening Day

Updated: March 17, 2013 11:52PM



GLENDALE, Ariz. ­­— At 23, Chris Sale seems mature beyond his years. That said, an Opening Day start at U.S. Cellular Field will make him feel like a “kid in a candy shop.’’

“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be awesome,’’ said Sale, a day after manager Robin Ventura made it official and named the All-Star to start his first Opening Day. “My knees are shaking just thinking about it. It’s going to be fun, going up there and having our fans from day one. You know the Cell is going to be electric and the fans will be screaming, going nuts.’’

The Sox open against the Kansas Royals on April 1. Sale at first tried to downplay the significance of the moment, but he couldn’t. He was fourth in the rotation last season, his first as a starter, and recalls being amped up as a spectator.

“I’m definitely going to have to collect myself, that’s for sure,’’ he said. “Stay focused and take a lot of deep breaths.

“Everyone’s excited, the fans are going nuts. And being a part of that now could be overwhelming. I’m going to do everything I can to collect my thoughts and stand on an even plane.”

Ventura told Sale on Friday, a week after Sale signed a $32.5 million contract extension. Things are moving fast for him.

“I called my dad the other day and said, ‘When am I going to wake up?” Sale said. “When’s the wakeup call coming?’’ It’s a lot to take in, but I’m certainly appreciative of everything. I know what’s gone on doesn’t happen to a lot of people, so I’ve noticed that and taken that in. I’m trying to appreciate this and show that I appreciate it.”

ROYALS 10, WHITE SOX 0

FOR THE RECORD: Royals right-hander Luis Mendoza pitched five innings, allowing four hits and striking out four to help drop the Sox to 10-8-3. They finished with five hits.

SEE YOU OPENING DAY: After Sox lefty David Purcey hit Alex Gordon in the ribs with a pitch in the fifth ­inning, ­Royals right-hander Nate Adcock threw behind ­Gordon ­Beckham in the sixth, ­prompting warnings from plate umpire Dan ­Bellino. There were no further ­incidents, and manager Robin Ventura downplayed it. “It’s nothing,’’ Ventura said. “Whatever.’’

HIT PARADE: Sox right-hander Zach Stewart, who will likely begin the season at Class AAA Charlotte, came into the game with one run allowed over five appearances and eight innings but was peppered for eight hits and seven runs over 22/3 innings. Seven of the hits were singles. The Royals piled 18 hits on Stewart, Purcey, Jeff Gray and Daniel Moskos. There’s a good chance none of those pitchers will break camp with the team.

SHOW ME SOME GLOVE: Stewart and third baseman Brent Morel made errors, hiking the Sox total to 18 – only seven of which were by players who will likely make the roster.

ON DECK: A day off for most Sox, except for Jake Peavy and Nate Jones, who are slated to pitch against Dodgers minor leaguers. Hector Gimenez will catch. The next game is ­Tuesday with John Danks pitching against the Reds in Goodyear. Ventura said Jeff Keppinger (sore right ­shoulder) will likely play in the field Tuesday, hopefully at third base, and that Tyler Flowers (back) is expected to catch again Tuesday or Wednesday.



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