Chris Sale will make his first Opening Day start on Monday. AP PHOTO
Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the White Sox against the Kansas City Royals on Monday (3:10 p.m.).
After the Sox' Sunday workout at U.S. Cellular Field, Sale talked to media about his first Opening Day start. Here's what he had to say.
On his level of excitement going into the game:
"Yeah, who isn't? I think everybody associated with baseball, likes baseball, is a fan of baseball, is excited for tomorrow.''
On being a Florida guy pitching in the cold:
"Once you get out there, it's fine. You get a little adrenaline going and kind of get caught up in the moment of what you are doing and you are not really focusing on the wind or how cold it is and you just gotta get your mind right and pitch like it's any other day. It might be a little bit colder but I probably won't notice that too much.''
On the Royals, who won 12 of 18 games against the Sox last season and are improved going into this year with the acquisition of pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay. Shields will start for KC Monday:
"We had our battles with them last year. You always want to start out on the right foot, especially with an in-division rival and get the season started on the right foot as well.
"Yeah, you get them right out of the gate. It will be good to set the tone. Set the tone for not only our series against them but for the year. Get started on the right foot.
On why the Royals matched up so well against the Sox:
"Well, they are a good team. They are free-swinging team that makes contact with the ball. They have some guys over there that can hit. They've added some great pitching too. It's not going to get any easier but we didn't expect it to be any easier. We are going to go at it bull by the horns and give it everything we got.''
On proving people wrong about where the Sox will finish. Almost everyone is picking the Tigers to win the division and predicting the wild card teams to come from the East and West divisions.
"You know, I wouldn't say we are trying to prove them wrong but we are trying to prove ourselves right. We are not worried about I guess what you guys write or what anyone else has to say about us. We believe in ourselves and I'll drop a Florida Gulf Coast [his college, which reached the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA basketball tournament] here.
"Nobody expected them to win anything. They didn't have a big bandwagon or fan base to start with and if you believe in yourself, that can take you a long way. We all believe in ourselves and each other and we are going to get this thing going and get it going the right way.''
On being a leader
"You kind of break it down. Jake is the leader of our pitching staff and Paul [Konerko] and Dunner [Adam Dunn] and those guys with the position players and Jesse [Crain] and [Matt] Thornton down there in the bullpen. We have good veteran guys around younger guys in every aspect of our lineup and then our pitching staff.
"What better way to have those guys here teaching us the right way and the way to not only be a good baseball player but a good teammate and good person as well.''
On friends and family attending the game Monday:
"I got 8. In-laws, my parents, wife and the little guy. It will be fun.''
Tough to handle the excitement, anticipation of the moment?
"Yeah, I feel like I've got myself to a pretty good place right now. Just kind of looking at this as any other game. There's a little bit of hype around it being as the first one and it's Opening Day. It still counts as one. If I go out there and win 10-0, it's still 1 in the left column and visa versa to one loss. Just another game and go after it like it is.
"Yeah, it will be exciting. I'm just kind of going out there and being another pitcher. That's what I think every starting pitcher strives for, be another guy to go out there and have them rely on you and not have to hold back innings limit or pitch count limits. Just go out there and be the pitcher that I am. Go out there every fifth day and give it everything I've got for however innings.''
On what Opening Day means to him:
"It's exciting. I was very excited for it. It's kind of nerve-wracking at times because obviously with everything going on all this excitement and hoopla. But I'm very proud and very honored to be the guy to start Opening Day and to get the first one out there and bring it back as a win.''