PHOENIX — The White Sox set their roster after a 7-1 exhibition victory Tuesday against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, and it includes eight players who’ll experience Opening Day for the first time.
Leading the list? Eloy Jimenez, their prized outfield prospect who will make his major-league debut against the Royals on Thursday afternoon in Kansas City. Jimenez was signed to a six-year, $43 million contract last week, the richest deal for a player who hasn’t appeared in a major-league game, and he’s ready to begin his big-league career.
“I can’t wait,” Jimenez said Saturday.
In the Sox’ last game of the spring — their second win in as many exhibitions at Chase — Jimenez played left field and flied out twice in two plate appearances before making an early exit along with the other starters. Jimenez batted .243 after a slow start and has looked more relaxed since signing his deal.
“A lot,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “He just feels comfortable. You’re starting to see the things he’s capable of doing.”
Also on an Opening Day roster for the first time: relief pitchers Ryan Burr, Caleb Frare, Jace Fry and Manny Banuelos, infielder Jose Rondon and outfielders Daniel Palka and Ryan Cordell.
Jay on injured list
As expected, Jon Jay will open the season on the 10-day injured list with a strained right hip. That opened a spot for Cordell, who batted .244 with a homer, double and triple this spring.
Right-hander Ian Hamilton also opens on the injured list with right-shoulder inflammation. Outfielder Brandon Guyer, released by the club last week, was re-signed to a minor-league contract.
Opening Day roster
Starting pitchers: Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Ivan Nova. Relievers: Alex Colome, Kelvin Herrera, Nate Jones, Dylan Covey, Burr, Frare, Fry and Banuelos. Outfielders: Jimenez, Leury Garcia, Adam Engel, Cordell and Palka. Infielders: Jose Abreu, Yonder Alonso, Yolmer Sanchez, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Rondon. Catchers: Welington Castillo and James McCann.
Ervin Santana will stay in Arizona and slide into the fifth starter’s spot when needed in two weeks. Rodon will start the opener.
With Jay sidelined, Renteria said he will give some looks to Garcia, who batted .431 this spring, in the leadoff spot. Yoan Moncada, Renteria’s top choice in the leadoff spot last season, hasn’t been used there much this spring but led off Tuesday with Garcia on the bench and Engel in center field.
Jimenez will get every-day time in left field with Engel, Garcia, Palka and Jay — when he returns — rotating some in the other two outfield spots. Engel, Garcia and Cordell can play center.
“It depends,” Renteria said. “We’ll look at the matchups. I like ‘Leroy’ in the top slot. Garcia has done a nice job. He’s been there on purpose to see how it all plays out.’’
No walks — again — for Nova
Nova allowed a solo homer to the D-backs’ Jake Lamb but nothing else in three innings. He struck out three and finished the spring without walking a batter in 19 innings.
Thomas joins NBCSCH team
Hall of Famer Frank Thomas is joining NBC Sports Chicago’s coverage team as a game-day studio analyst on “White Sox Pregame Live.” Thomas also will make occasional appearances on the network’s weeknight lead-in “Baseball Night in Chicago” program.
The Big Hurt’s first appearance will be Opening Day. NBCSCH hired Thomas’ former teammate and manager Ozzie Guillen as a pregame and postgame analyst last week.