White Sox hope to put on show for fans in home opener
CHICAGO (AP) Jose Abreu hopes the Chicago White Sox put on a show for their fans when they meet the Minnesota Twins in Friday's home opener.
After all, they will be getting their first up-close look at a revamped team. And expectations are high after a busy offseason.
''We want to go there and play hard and show our fans we have a good team this year,'' said Abreu, the AL Rookie of the Year last season.
Ten years after the 2005 team won the World Series, the White Sox believe they are once again poised for big things.
They injected some pop into their lineup by signing Adam LaRoche from Washington and brought in Melky Cabrera to solidify the No. 2 spot in the lineup behind Adam Eaton. They boosted their rotation by adding Jeff Samardzija and overhauled their bullpen, landing closer David Robertson.
After all that, they believe they are in position to compete with Kansas City, Detroit and Cleveland in the AL Central. They see themselves contending after back-to-back losing seasons, and dropping three games against the Royals to start the season does not change that.
Samardzija struggled in Monday's 10-1 loss and reliever Zach Putnam gave up a two-run homer to Lorenzo Cain in the eighth inning Wednesday, sending Kansas City to a 7-5 victory. On Thursday, the White Sox lost 4-1.
''Everything gets blown out of proportion the first week of the season,'' manager Robin Ventura said. ''We've been 2-0 before and that didn't help us too much. The stuff on the field matters, not perceptions. We have a lot to prove. It's one thing to have it on paper, it's another to go out and play that way. We have some guys off to a good start, other guys probably not, but early in the season that changes.''
On Friday, the White Sox will give a nod to the 2005 team by having Jose Contreras throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Joe Crede. In the second inning, they will show a video tribute to the late Minnie Minoso, someone fellow Cuban Abreu called ''a great person, outstanding player.''
Chicago will send Hector Noesi to the mound, with Tommy Milone starting for Minnesota.
The Twins were scheduled to wrap up a three-game series against Detroit on Thursday after getting outscored a combined 15-0 in the first two games.
They got shut down by David Price while dropping the opener 4-0 on Monday. Things were no better Wednesday, with Ricky Nolasco getting pounded while Anibal Sanchez dominated for Detroit.
''No time to panic,'' said veteran Torii Hunter, one of the Twins' most popular players ever. ''We need to make some adjustments as a team and I think we're going to do that.''
The Twins brought back Hunter to help solidify the outfield. They hired manager Paul Molitor to replace Ron Gardenhire, hoping the Hall of Famer's intelligence could lift a franchise seeking a fresh start after four straight losing seasons.
''You've got to keep grinding,'' Molitor said. ''You've got to keep coming back with a fresh attitude every day.''