White Sox eye fast start to combat tough schedule

Say momentum will be key in early part of season

White Sox eye fast start to combat tough schedule

OAKLAND -- The schedule-makers did the White Sox no favors at the outset of the 2016 season.

One off-day in April, 19 games in 19 days starting after that off-day on April 12 in Minnesota and 10 road games out of the first 13 played, not to mention 16 contests away from home in April. Getting off to that rare good start could be a challenge for the South Siders, even with the positive vibe they take away from Spring Training.

"I'm confident that this group can go out and win games. That's the point right now," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, prior to Sunday's team workout at the Oakland Coliseum and Monday's Opening Day contest with the A's. "It's not, 'Don't stub your toe.' It's just, 'Go out and play.' "

"That can work in our favor," said White Sox pitcher Chris Sale, who makes his third career Opening Day start Monday. "If we do start off hot and we get rolling, sometimes you don't want an off-day. Sometimes you just want to keep going, so hopefully that's the case for us. Get off on the right foot starting tomorrow [Monday], and just never look back."

Those strong starts have been elusive of late for the White Sox.

In 2015, the team stood at 8-11 after April and 23-26 after May, already seven games out and in fifth place. The White Sox stayed alive with a seven-game road winning streak going into the non-waiver Trade Deadline and via a second American League Wild Card where nobody took charge.

Their 2014 campaign featured a 14-15 April ledger and a 28-29 mark after May, leaving them 5 1/2 games out of the division lead. The 2013 season produced a 10-15 April and a 24-28 standing after May.

Even in 2012, when the team sat atop the AL Central for 117 days, it still managed to break even at 11 -11 in April before taking off to a 29-22 record and first-place standing at the end of May.

Ventura likes this group assembled -- the sort of salty, experienced veterans mixed with the young talent as part of general manager Rick Hahn's revamping-while-contending program. He believes they've done the work needed for a good start, even if it's not an 18-8 or 17-9 standing when April closes.

"I wouldn't mind it all, and I don't think they would either," Ventura said. "But again I like the vibe they have. I like the energy and the confidence they come out of Spring Training with and you just go from there."

"Momentum is big in any sport," third baseman Todd Frazier said. "You get on a run, you see it in a basketball game. Same in baseball, you get on some runs and you expect that you're going to win."

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