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The 2014 White Sox get some separation from last season

Chicago White Sox manager RobVenturleft hitting coach Todd Steverswatch from dugout first inning spring exhibitibaseball game against ClevelIndians Friday March

Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura, left, and hitting coach Todd Steverson watch from the dugout in the first inning of a spring exhibition baseball game against the Cleveland Indians Friday, March 14, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan) ORG XMIT: AZMD

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MESA, Ariz. — The White Sox separated themselves nicely from last season during a six-week spring-training stretch that came to a close with a loss Thursday to the Cubs.

There were lots of new faces and not many reminders of the 99-loss season, which is all well and good, but, as manager Robin Ventura said, an optimistic buzz is not unique to the Sox.

“No matter what team you’re on, no matter what the year before was, you come out of spring training, and guys are more energetic and optimistic,’’ he said. “But it’s a different group. You don’t feel that same vibe as last year. There’s a lot of guys that weren’t here, so they don’t have to sit here and feel it every day.’’

Ventura, like everyone else associated with 2013, was sick of losing. Even though this team is in something of a rebuilding phase, he said the measure for success hasn’t changed.

“Win games,’’ he said. “You have to win games, and that’s the name of the game.’’

Opening Day firsts all around

Adam Eaton, Marcus Semien, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia, who likely will be the first four hitters to bat for the Sox in 2014, will be playing on Opening Day for the first time. Starting third baseman Conor Gillaspie was on the roster but did not start last year.

Bench guys Leury Garcia and Adrian Nieto, starting pitcher Erik Johnson and possibly reliever Daniel Webb would all be on an Opening Day roster for the first time.

“I’m really excited because this will be my first Opening Day,’’ Avisail Garcia, 22, said, flashing a big smile. “It’s great.’’

“I’ve never been to one as a kid, so I’m excited,’’ Semien, 23, said.

According to Elias, the last time five or more Sox made their first start in a season opener was 1944 (Grey Clarke, Guy Curtright, Orval Grove, Roy Schalk, Tom Turner). The Sox have 17 players on their 40-man roster 25 or younger. Baseball America ranked the organization’s 25-and-under talent as ninth-best in baseball.

Knowing his place

Semien will start at second, but when Gordon Beckham comes off the disabled list soon, Semien would become a part-timer if he’s not sent down to get regular at-bats. The 2013 Southern League player of the year batted .333 this spring.

Semien knows he’ll move over when Beckham comes back.

“That’s his spot. He’s the second baseman here in Chicago,’’ he said.

If he plays part-time, “you have to prepare yourself every day to be ready for any situation,’’ Semien said.

Javy Guerra

Claimed on waivers from the Dodgers on Wednesday, right-hander Javy Guerra is not a lock to make the Opening Day roster even though the 28-year-old is out of minor-league options. If he doesn’t make it, Guerra would have to clear waivers and accept a minor-league assignment from the Sox. Guerra had a 2.90 ERA with 29 saves in 1021/3 innings over parts of three seasons with the Dodgers (2011-13). Guerra was not in the Sox’ clubhouse Thursday.


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