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White Sox close upper deck because of icy ramps, stairwells

The White Sox closed the upper deck after ice formed on the ramps. Fans were allowed to exchange their seats for tickets in the lower bowl. | Nam Y. Huh/AP

An unusual sight greeted the White Sox when they arrived early Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.

The snowfall Friday had blanketed the tarp and outfield, leaving a soft layer of snow for Roger Bossard and the grounds crew to contend with. Up in the stands, icy ramps and stairwells caused the Sox to close the upper deck to fans, who weren’t allowed into the park until 30 minutes before the first pitch.

Welcome to baseball season in Chicago.

The snow was removed well before the first pitch, but cold temperatures remained. It was 32 degrees with a wind chill of 25 when the Sox took the field.

‘‘I think guys are used to it by now,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘Everybody that plays in Northern cities, you start in April, you’re gonna get it. You get used to it, prepare for it, put on enough gear and go get ’em.’’

Had the Sox been playing the Rangers, Rays, Astros or another warm-weather team, there might have been reason to celebrate a home-field advantage.

Against the Indians, though?

‘‘Cleveland has bad weather, too,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘But there’s no sense complaining about it because we’re gonna play the game. . . . They’re playing in the same stuff.’’

Fans who braved the cold temperatures were offered gift certificates for a free upper-deck seat or a $5 outfield reserve seat at a future April or May
home game.

Robin can relate

Ventura was devastated to learn Friday of the season-ending knee injury that will keep catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber out of the Cubs’ lineup for the rest of the season.

‘‘I was sick to my stomach when I saw it,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘You wouldn’t wish that on anyone.’’

Ventura missed 100 games in 1997 when he broke his right ankle on a slide into home plate during spring training.

An MRI exam revealed Schwarber tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee.

‘‘I just hope he can come back and catch and do all the things he’d hoped to do,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘My [injury] was different, and there’s been a lot of advances in rehab and recovery techniques since I got hurt, so hopefully
he can.’’

Sale and the Candy Man

Indians manager Terry Francona offered an interesting comparison for Sox starter Chris Sale.

Asked whether Sale reminds him of anyone he saw as a player, Francona offered up John Candelaria, who pitched 19 major-league seasons (1975-93).

‘‘Maybe Candelaria, although Candelaria was a lot bigger than him,’’ Francona said. ‘‘I’m not good at that. I didn’t usually face those guys. He’s a handful. Velocity, breaking ball — he’s got a lot.’’

Candelaria’s best season came with the Pirates in 1977, when he went 20-5 with a 2.34 ERA.

Baby on the way

Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton had the day off to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.

Ventura said he wasn’t sure how much time Eaton would miss, but he offered a suggestion.

‘‘I let him know that he can stay and see this through and that Robin is a good name,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘It works either way, boy or girl. It’s pretty universal.’’

Follow me on Twitter @davidjustCST.