MLB

Twins-White Sox Preview

The Chicago White Sox made a slew of moves in the offseason as they seek to rebound from two straight sub-.500 seasons.

The health of ace Chris Sale, however, is as important as any transaction.

Sale will make his season debut a bit later than expected Sunday when the White Sox and Minnesota Twins wrap up a three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field.

The team's top pitcher and among the best in baseball, Sale would've normally been given the opening-day assignment for the White Sox (1-4), but he suffered an avulsion fracture in his right foot early in spring training.

The left-hander is now healthy and ready to build on another outstanding season.

Sale went 12-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 26 starts in 2014, finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting. He averaged 10.76 strikeouts per nine innings to rank second in the majors behind Clayton Kershaw and was third in the AL with a .205 opponent batting average.

Sale has won three consecutive decisions against Minnesota (1-4) and is 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA in eight career starts in the series.

Torii Hunter has had moderate success against Sale, going 7 for 27 (.259) with a home run.

"You see a slim guy out there, you think, 'He can't hurt me too much,'" Hunter told MLB's official website. "No, he can. This guy has great stuff. His slider is unbelievable. Me as a right-hander, you see it in the other batter's box, you take it, and next thing you know it comes back and it's a strike. You give up on it because it's a ball."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura is not concerned that Sale has faced only minor leaguers while recovering from his injury.

"He's the guy I want going out there tomorrow, I don't care if he's faced a hitter or not," Ventura said.

After the Twins notched their first win with a 6-0 victory in the series opener, the White Sox finally broke into the win column Saturday by rallying for a 5-4 win. Pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck delivered a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning as Chicago avoided its first 0-5 start since 1968.

"It's a great feeling," Shuck said. "It's a good team-building win right here. I think we're going to roll off this one."

Saturday's offensive production nearly matched the seven runs the White Sox scored in their first four games. Adam LaRoche and Geovany Soto homered for Chicago, which managed two homers and batted .183 during the 0-4 start.

Slugger Jose Abreu is off to a slow start, batting .176 with one RBI. Abreu, though, is a career .360 hitter against Minnesota, collecting four homers and 18 RBIs in 20 games.

He's been very effective against Phil Hughes, going 4 for 10 with three doubles.

Hughes (0-1, 6.00) wasn't at his best against Detroit in Monday's season opener, allowing four runs - including two homers - and eight hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out six.

The right-hander is 4-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 11 starts against the White Sox, losing his last two and pitching past the fifth inning only once in the past five.

Twins shortstop Danny Santana had two hits Saturday and is batting .469 (15 for 32) with seven RBIs in his last eight games against the White Sox. However, he's 0 for 8 lifetime against Sale.

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