Ventura officially anoints Sale Opening Day starter

Ventura officially anoints Sale Opening Day starter

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura made it official on Saturday, naming left-hander Chris Sale as his Opening Day starter. Then Ventura watched said Opening Day starter get knocked around in five innings by the Oakland A's at Camelback Ranch.

Neither Ventura nor Sale seemed particularly flummoxed by the seven-hit, five-run performance out of the man who earned the top billing with a breakout 2012 season in which he pitched a career-high 192 innings and went 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA and struck out 192.

"I'm not worried about that," Ventura said. "Velocity-wise, everything's great. We're getting toward the end of spring and he's probably a little anxious to get going. I talked to him earlier, and he'll be the Opening Day starter, so maybe he has some nerves doing that, but we feel very confident with him going forward and giving him the ball for the first day."

Sale said he just couldn't command the ball well around the strike zone.

"I honestly just started thinking harder instead of smarter," Sale said. "Coop [pitching coach Don Cooper] came up to me and said, 'Hey, you look like you're out there trying to get more stuff out of yourself.' After that, the next couple of innings were pretty good."

Ventura said he waited until now to anoint Sale as his No. 1 guy so the lefty could concentrate on doing the work he needed to do to prepare for the upcoming season.

"It's something for him to be motivated the last two weeks, get out there and go, and he's ready to do that," Ventura said.

Sale said he wasn't concerned with the crooked numbers on the scoreboard.

"I felt loose out there, I felt good, just like any other outing," Sale said. "No dead arm or anything. I just got lit up a little bit. Or a lot."

Doug Miller is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.