Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 4/4/12

The day is almost here.

On April 6th, the Chicago White Sox tee off against the Texas Rangers and fans can finally put the woes of the 2011 season behind them. Even though former manager Ozzie Guillen and beloved ace Mark Buehrle are now basking in the sun of Miami, there is much to to be hopeful about. We can expect to see Robin Ventura’s youthful energy in the clubhouse and possibly witness history if he manages this team into the playoffs.

Opening Day 2007

With one game left to go in their extended Spring Training, the Sox didn’t blow anybody away with their 14-18 record. However, they didn’t disappoint anyone either. There were flashes of brilliance and many of the losses can simply be chalked up to the inexperienced pitching staff still trying to get in the swing of things.

As hard as it is for me to say, I was certainly skeptical going into Spring Training about this team’s regular season success.The broken record had been spinning all offseason about the shortcomings of Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and Gordon Beckham.  To make matters worse, the 3-10 start through the first two weeks emphasized poor pitching and a lackluster offense.

Since then, things have brightened up considerably. The one positive that cannot be understated is the performance of Adam Dunn.With his homer on Tuesday against the Houston Astros, Dunn now has 15 RBIs which is a team high. Considering the fact that even hitting above .200 is an improvement, his contributions have been unexpected, but long overdue. Hopefully Ventura slotting him in the third spot can produce some results. Batting cleanup on Opening Day will be Paul Konerko, whose 27 hits and .397 batting average are certainly nothing to ignore. Another bright spot would have to be the play of Brent Lillibridge. Having played all over the diamond throughout these last few weeks, Lillibridge also managed to hit .328 through 61 at-bats.

The old guard

With the exception of Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo hitting well under expectations, the main shortcomings of this underdog White Sox team seem to be found on the other side of the ball. Ventura has yet to announce an official closer so it looks like even if it is the expected Matt Thornton, Sox fans won’t know until the end of the game Friday night. Addison Reed and Zach Stewart, although promising young hurlers, headline a bullpen ripe with inexperience. Meanwhile, everyone’s favorite “Mr. Glass”, Jake Peavy, threw a 8.78 ERA while only seeing 13 innings during Spring Training in order to minimize preseason injury concerns.

All in all, the Sox are looking to surprise the baseball world with an above average season and hopefully make a run at the AL Central title. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, I think it is unrealistic, and a bit unfair, to assume this White Sox team will lose 90 games. The veteran experience of players such as A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko combined with all the young eager talent gives this team more than just the chance of a winning season.

Opening Day is only 48 short hours away and I can feel this season starting off with a ‘W’.

 

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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