White Sox are excited for home opener

White Sox are excited for home opener

KANSAS CITY -- Since Feb. 19, the White Sox have been all over the Phoenix Valley area in Arizona, in Charlotte, N.C., for one day and spent almost a week in Kansas City.

It's understandable that they would be excited to get back to Chicago for Friday afternoon's home opener at U.S. Cellular Field (3:10 CT), even if this particular homestand covers just three games against the Twins.

"You leave Spring Training, too many off-days, traveling to the East Coast and back," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of the White Sox strange early schedule. "But that's part of the schedule, that's part of the grind of starting early.

"Just figure out a way to handle it. Any time you have your home opener it's exciting for our guys to get there. It is weird that it's three days. You're in, you're out."

This brief visit to Chicago, before embarking on a five-game road trip to Cleveland and Detroit, should be an eventful one. The Shark Cage, a specially designated fan area for Jeff Samardzija starts, makes its debut on Saturday.

And the K Zone returns Sunday when Chris Sale makes his 2015 debut after being sidelined since Feb. 27 with an avulsion fracture in his right foot.

Most of the focus falls upon Friday, when Hector Noesi gets the honor of starting the home opener against Minnesota southpaw Tommy Milone. Noesi knows the game is sold out, but will be focused more on the Twins than the boisterous fans.

"I don't expect anything from them. I just have to go over there and do my job," Noesi said. "I have to be ready for any game they put me in, you know?"

"He's got good stuff. You see it come out of his hand, there's some life on it," said Ventura of Noesi. "And he's gotten better with that changeup to make him last within the game and be able to have something besides just fastball."

Players and coaches will be introduced prior to the game, a flyover by U.S. Navy F-18 Hornets from Virginia Beach, Va., will take place and Jose Contreras will throw out a ceremonial first pitch to Joe Crede as the 10-year celebration of the 2005 World Series title continues.

A special video tribute will be paid to the late Minnie Minoso at the top of the second inning. Minoso passed away on March 1.

The forecast calls for sunshine and temperatures in the high 50s and low 60s all weekend, which excites first baseman Jose Abreu as much as anything else.

"My wife is in Chicago right now and she told me that it's cold," said Abreu through interpreter and White Sox Spanish language broadcaster Billy Russo. "But I hope that this year the weather can be good for us."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.