Former outfielder Magglio Ordonez strolled to the mound Saturday looking as fit and ready for a major-league game as he did in 2000, when he was a rising star with ‘‘The Kids Can Play’’ White Sox.
‘‘I do CrossFit,’’ Ordonez, 44, said with his familiar, beaming smile.
Ordonez has jumped into — and left — Venezuelan politics and purchased a Venezuelan baseball team during his time away from the game.
He was back in Chicago to throw out a ceremonial first pitch before the Sox’ 6-1 loss to the Tigers on a cold day at Guaranteed Rate Field.
It was Ordonez’s first trip to Chicago since he retired after the 2011 season. He spent eight seasons with the Sox (1997-2004) and finished his career as a six-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger. He was the runner-up in voting for American League most valuable player in 2007 with the Tigers.
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‘‘I’m from this house,’’ said Ordonez, who lives in Miami and Venezuela. ‘‘I grew up here. This is the organization that gave me an opportunity to play in the big leagues. I always love this city and people.’’
Ordonez was a fitting guest for the rebuilding Sox, having gone through his own version of a rebuild in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Those teams featured future World Series heroes Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Paul Konerko.
Ordonez left the offseason before the Sox reached the World Series in 2005, but he knows a thing or two about enduring losing seasons to get there.
‘‘When you sign good players, you have a good system,’’ he said. ‘‘It clicks like that. When you have a good foundation, it happens quick.’’
The Sox are hoping for a similar ‘‘click’’ in the next couple of years. But there have been and will be growing pains along the way, as evidenced by their loss Saturday.
Right-hander Lucas Giolito (0-1) was an out away from a quality start before allowing a two-run double to Dixon Machado that gave the Tigers a 5-0 lead in the sixth. He yielded five runs, four hits and three walks and hit three batters in 5 2/3 innings.
Giolito didn’t blame the 32-degree weather for his poor outing.
‘‘Early in the year, you have some cold weather to deal with,’’ he said. ‘‘That didn’t really affect anything today. I just didn’t pitch well.’’
The Sox’ offense, which previously had no trouble hitting or scoring in the cold, struggled to produce. The Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the second and didn’t score. They put two more runners on in the third and didn’t score.
‘‘We put together some good at-bats and kind of fell a little short,’’ shortstop Tim Anderson said.
Avisail Garcia drove in the Sox’ lone run on a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
While the Sox’ first series at home hasn’t been pretty, Ordonez said he is optimistic about the rebuild.
‘‘You have to give a chance to the young players,’’ Ordonez said. ‘‘I know the White Sox have good players and a lot of talent. Hopefully they do good. They did it when I got here.’’