GLENDALE, Ariz. – Chris Sale tuned up for his third Opening Day start with 5 1/3 efficient innings against the Texas Rangers Tuesday.
The White Sox ace left-hander, making only his third Cactus League start after spending the first four weeks of spring training throwing on the backfields at Camelback Ranch, struck out five, walked none and gave up six hits. One hit was a homer to Hanser Alberto.
“I made one kind of silly pitch right there,’’ Sale said. “Other than that, it was good. It was what I wanted to do before we get going out there.’’
Sale said he tried to “mentally engage like you’re fighting” to create a regular season feeling.
“Raise the intensity level a little bit, have a little bit of success and hopefully roll that into the next one,’’ he said.
That next one is Monday night when the Sox visit the Oakland Athletics and Sonny Gray in a matchup of the 3-4 finishers in the American League Cy Young voting. It will be Sale missed last season’s opener because of a foot injury.
“It’s probably the closest to a playoff atmosphere that I’ve ever been,’’ he said. “Just the energy, it’s the first day. It’s like the first day of school.’’
Tuesday’s starting nine is the likely group for Monday’s opener, manager Robin Ventura said: Eaton RF, Jimmy Rollins SS, Jose Abreu 1B, Frazier 3B, Melky Cabrera LF, Avisail Garcia DH, Brett Lawrie 2B, Austin Jackson CF, Sale P.
“That’s going to be the guys,’’ Ventura said. “Where they bat might mix around a little bit.’’
Smokin’ Todd Frazier
New third baseman and cleanup man Todd Frazier, who hit his second homer in three days and his third of the spring, heads into the regular in a nice groove with 11 hits and eight RBI in his last 13 games. Adam Eaton also homered, his second, to give the Sox 48 home runs, the most in baseball.
This and that
*Right-hander Nate Jones struck out both batters he faced in his eighth appearance, all scoreless. Jones has 12 strikeouts and has walked one. Closer David Robertson pitched a perfect inning and has allowed one walk and one hit in five scoreless appearances.
*Right-hander Kameron Loe received an 80-game suspension for a positive test under baseball’s minor league drug program. Loe, 34, a nine-year veteran who pitched for five major league teams including the Cubs in 2013, signed with the Sox on March 3 after pitching in the independent Atlantic League last year. Loe, who tested positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone metabolite and Methasterone, was not in major league camp.
*The Sox drew 87,294 fans with a 6,235 average, their second highest in eight years at Camelback Ranch.