KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Second baseman Micah Johnson will make his major league debut when the White Sox open the season against the Kansas City Royals Monday at Kauffman Stadium.
Johnson, who will bat ninth, was expected to get the nod, but manager Robin Ventura waited until Sunday while the Sox were working out in preparation for the opener to make the announcement. Right-hander Kyle Drabek has also made the team, Ventura confirmed.
“In person you see the type of player he is, the tough at-bats and as fast as he is he adds a different element being able to stretch a defense, he makes them aware of him,” Ventura said Sunday. “Having him bat ninth and coming right back to turn the lineup over with Adam [Eaton in the leadoff spot] it’s really a dynamic we havent’ had here in a few years. We have some guys who can run around the bases and create a few runs when you need them.”
Here is the Opening Day lineup: Adam Eaton CF, Melky Cabrera LF, Jose Abreu 1B, Adam LaRoche DH, Avisail Garcia RF, Gillaspie 3B, Alexei Ramirez SS, Tyler Flowers C, Micah Johnson 2B. Jeff Samardzija P.
Samardzija gets the start against the Royals’ Yordano Ventura. Samardzija got the nod with Chris Sale out for at least one start.
”For me there’s a little [Jack] McDowell to him when he steps on the mound,” Robin Ventura said. “There’s an edge to him that raises everyone to that level.”
The Sox need to raise their level now that the games are for keeps. Ventura wasn’t pleased with how the Cactus League season finished on a low note.
“There was some sloppiness in there that we raised and took care of in some meetings,” Ventura said. “You need to play better. This is the major leagues. If you’re not going to play clean baseball you’re not going to have a chance to win.
“We haven’t played as well as we’d like at the end here. You get to the point where it counts now. You can’t [say] it doesn’t mean as much. Now everything means something. It’s fun to get here, just the attitude and mentality changes on a lot of these guys once you leave Arizona and everything counts.
“For these guys it’s all about the execution of what you do. And we need to be good at it. We need to take care of the baseball. There are a lot of details you need to be good at and we need to be better at.”
Here is the White Sox Opening Day roster:
Pitchers: Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana, John Danks, Hector Noesi, David Robertson, Zach Putnam, Zach Duke, Matt Albers, Dan Jennings, Kyle Drabek, Javy Guerra
Outfielders: Melky Cabrera, Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, J.B. Shuck
Infielders: Conor Gillaspie, Alexei Ramirez, Micah Johnson, Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche, Carlos Sanchez, Gordon Beckham
Infield/outfield: Emilio Bonifacio
Catchers: Tyler Flowers, Geovany Soto